Disease detectives are on the lookout for obscure viruses that can be spread among people by traveling insects, and quickly become a widespread problem. Scientific papers are filled with illnesses to watch. Four particular viruses now stand out to virologists and epidemiologists, although it is not certain any of the ailments will become the next Zika or West Nile virus. But researchers give several reasons to keep a close eye on this quartet:



“For 10 years now I’ve been thinking that Mayaro is right on the cusp of being able to amplify in humans and being transmitted efficiently by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” says Scott Weaver, a virologist  at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Mayaro causes a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus: fever, chills, rash and the characteristic joint pain that can last longer than a year. It does matter, though, which of these viruses circulates in your body. Once there are vaccines against Mayaro and chikungunya, and drugs to treat them (so far there are none), they will likely be virus-specific.