However, man is not helpless. Biosurveillance processes like the one at Guantanamo can help us predict where disease is spreading and then get going. But unless robust, coordinated biosurveillance programs are funded around the world, it could be too far before a new disease vector is discovered, says Linton.
Focusing on travel centers can help. In the last few years there have been cases of so-called “airport malaria” – malaria brought in by a mosquito via a flight. Today airports around the world are equipped with light traps. “Today eight times more malaria patients arrive in clinics and hospitals across Europe than in the 1970s,” writes Shah.
“Aedes vittatus could be one of the few examples where we’re ahead of the curve,” says Pagac.
By funding research in the Caribbean and North America, experts like Pagac could enable scientists to monitor the spread of the species and project where the mosquitoes are going next.
Only then can national and local governments campaign using known methods such as spraying, emptying stagnant water, and encouraging people in vulnerable areas to protect themselves by wearing long sleeves, pants, and bug spray.
In a world teetering on Covid-19, this type of focus seems to be a difficult challenge. But he and Linton say we mustn’t miss this opportunity to “stop the next”.
Reporting for this story, part of our series Stop the next onewas supported by funds from the Pulitzer Center.
Join a million Future fans by liking us Facebookor follow us further Twitter or Instagram.
If you liked this story, Sign up for the weekly newsletter with bbc.com functions, called “The Essential List”. A handpicked selection of stories from the BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel delivered to your inbox every Friday.