The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified nine cases of monkeypox across seven states as of Wednesday, agency Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.
The nine cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia, and New York, per CNN.
Most cases — except for the one in Virginia — "are within gay [and] bisexual men and other men who have sex with men," Walensky said before imploring Americans to approach the virus "guided by science, not by stigma."
"While some groups may have a greater chance of exposure right now, infectious diseases do not care about state or international borders. They're not contained within social networks, and the risk of exposure is not limited to any one particular group," Walensky said.
Samples from the nine cases were sent to the CDC for further testing and investigation, Walensky added. Officials expect more cases to crop up in the U.S.
Monkeypox is a more benign version of smallpox that can cause fever, body aches, and, eventually, those characteristic fluid-filled blisters known as "pox." The smallpox vaccine is thought to be decently effective against the disease.