The last few years has made it abundantly clear that infectious diseases are not some abstract public health threat—they’re an ever-present and often unpredictable danger. We’re now in year three of the covid-19 pandemic, caused by the then-novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In May 2022, outbreaks of monkeypox began circulating across multiple countries, raising the possibility that this usually rare viral infection could become established in new parts of the world.
There are many other germs poised to become a more serious problem than they currently are. They’re what scientists call emerging diseases. These aren’t necessarily the next pandemic, but they could cause large outbreaks in the future or spread far beyond their present range. So here are eight of the most worrying emerging diseases out there.