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KatawaGrey's avatar

Which three cities would be "optimal" for spreading a contagious agent throughout the world most effectively?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21360 points ) October 30th, 2011

I have been watching zombie movies, reading zombie books and playing zombie games a lot lately and it’s gotten me to thinking about the likelihood of a viral pandemic of some sort. I think that if someone was to deliberately spread a highly infectious agent, they would have to choose a few really good targets for the initial infection. I have thought of three cities and general reasons why I think infecting them would cause a contagion to spread like wildfire throughout the world.

1. Shanghai – It is one of the biggest cities in the most populated country in the world. Infection would spread very fast through there simply because of this. It would then probably spread to all but the most remote and rural parts of China. It is also visited by non-Chinese citizens on a regular basis. This combined with the fact that it is so densely populated would mean that even if a tourist was to escape an obviously infected person, the chances are very good that they would run into someone who was not obviously infected, but still contagious and then possibly get on a plane and fly back home where they would infect even more people.

2. Las Vegas – This seems like an odd choice for a North American city to be infected, however, since people from all over the country and, at times, the world visit Las Vegas, I think it would be a prime target for taking out the North American continent and even the South American continent as well. I considered New York City, but the fact that the majority of it is on an island, the infection could be contained relatively quickly by simply bombing Manhattan. If anyone has compelling reasons as to why NYC would be a prime candidate, however, please let me know.

3. Tokyo – This also seems like an odd choice. However, even though Japan itself is not very large, it is densely populated and there are a number of international business men who have business in many different countries. Every airport would be an excellent breeding ground for infection and large airports with a multitude of international flights leaving every hour would be especially effective at spreading the disease.

So, Jellies, which three cities do you think would be the “optimal” sites for spreading an outbreak of this magnitude?

We can file this question under both curiosity and research because I am in the process of writing a book about a disease that killed most of humanity. It’s on the back burner for now, but I am still doing research on it every now and then.

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17 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

I know, but why would I tell?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Orlando, Fla. Theme parks. Great jumping off point for global infection.
LA, same reason, theme parks and Hollywood.
NYC, business and tourist density.

Creepy Q, @KatawaGrey, Happy Halloween!

zenvelo's avatar

Transit hubs are the best, as people get on planes and move around the world.

I’d think Miami to spread to South America; Singapore for Asia, and Paris or Frankfurt for Europe. Miami would connect to Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. Paris connects to Africa and the Middle East. And Singapore to the whole western Pacific.

lillycoyote's avatar

The first two are for the reasons already mentioned population density and tourist travel.

1. Manila. Reasonably large population and it is the most densely populate city in the world and the contagion would

2. London, during the 2012 Summer Olympics. The city has 7 million plus people and with the Olympics there would be an extremely large influx of tourists and a lot crowds and people tightly packed, the infection spreads easily under those conditions and they all take it home with them to their respective countries

2. Baghdad? Another big city and one of the reasons the “Spanish Flu” spread around the world the way it did was the massive transport of troops around the globe because of WWII. It certainly isn’t the same scale, as WWI, of course, but between the troops, the press, diplomats and all sorts of others coming and going back and forth between Iraq and the rest of the world it might be a contender. I need a third city. :-)

rebbel's avatar

What are you planning on spreading, @KatawaGrey…., Fluther Flu?
FluFlu or F1F1

flutherother's avatar

Just look at the variety of departure destinations from any international airport. The virus would spread across the world in no time. And imagine being on a plane crossing the Atlantic as passengers fall seriously ill and die and then mysteriously come back to life. Yikes! I’m surprised no one has made a film about it.

Blueroses's avatar

Hong Kong & Dubai as international business hubs. For North America, I agree with Vegas or Orlando.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The problem I would see with airports is that they are an obvious target, therefore more likely to be watched, and the spread prevented. But a pathogen smeared on the grabrails of the Pirates of the Caribbean little boat things, or on the rail of the observation deck of the Empire State building…

chyna's avatar

Washington, DC for North America to get the politicians first.

I agree with Tokyo and London for the sheer number of people going through the airports there.

Mariah's avatar

Just get it to Madagascar before they shut their damn ports down.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The ones with the busiest international airports.

jonsblond's avatar

@flutherother Zombies On A Plane and Fight of the Living Dead ;)

I would include either Chicago or Atlanta for a US city since they are both major connecting points for flights here.

poopnest's avatar

Tokyo, Japan, Asia. Population density: City: 12.5 million people. Metropolitan area: 34 million. If one person sneezes, they all get sick.

London, England, Europe: Has the larges number of annual airport passengers and is a great place for cross contamination to occur.

Mumbai, India, South Asia: India is the second most populous country in the world and is the country with the most young people who will be out, potentially spreading and becoming infected. Mumbai is the most populated city in India.

poopnest's avatar

I would also consider Mexico City in place of Mumbai since it is in North America and has one of the largest populations in North America. It would be best to attack 3 continents if possible. I can’t make up my mind between the two! They both seem like exciting places to infect with zombie scurge.

Symbeline's avatar

Any big city that, like your Tokyo example, which has a lot of coming in and coming out. I’d pick New York as well, since it’s packed up against other cities where the virus could spread quickly and effectively, and it isn’t entirely restricted by huge bodies of water like Japan is.
London would be another good choice, why not start the outbreak right in King’s Cross, to give the virus a chance to get overseas and into other European countries quickly.
Beijing. A big city in China, the most populated country in the world, where trade and people are coming in and out constantly. That’s gotta fuck shit up. Cool question. :)

downtide's avatar

You don’t want to be looking at the biggest populations, necessarily. You want to be looking at cities with the greatest amount of incoming and outgoing traffic. Faster spreading of contaigons.

The top three busiest airports in 2011 are London (Heathrow), Beijing and Atlanta. I think those would be the best three places to start.

flutherother's avatar

@jonsblond Thanks, I had no idea these films existed.

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