Humans more likely to spread diseases via airplanes

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New research has found that humans are far more likely to spread diseases like Zika, yellow fever, malaria and dengue via commercial flights than mosquitos.

The results, published in a paper entitled Mosquitoes on a plane: Disinsection will not stop the spread of vector-borne pathogens, a simulation study by Luis Mier-y-Teran-Romero, Andrew J. Tatem and Michael A. Johansson, say that the chances of an infected mosquito getting onto a commercial flight, surviving the journey and then biting someone are slim compared to a human transferring the virus. In fact, the results show that humans are 200 times more likely to spread a disease via a commercial airplane, whilst a human traveller is 1,000 times more likely to introduce P.falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria.

“International policies, such as the International Health Regulations, call for controlling mosquitoes on aircraft to prevent the introduction of mosquito-borne pathogens and invasive mosquito species,” the researches said in the report. “[However] Humans were hundreds of times more likely to spread pathogens via air travel, even in the absence of any mosquito control. Therefore, policies designed to prevent the transportation of infected mosquitoes on airplanes are unlikely to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases.”

According to the team’s results, even in the absence of the current mosquito control and disinsection measures, humans were still 100 times more likely to spread disease.