Cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia and New York.
All of the cases “are within gay, bisexual men and other men who have sex with men,” she said.
Walensky called for an approach “guided by science, not by stigma.”
“This is a community that has the strength and has demonstrated the ability to address challenges to their health by focusing on compassion and science,” she said in an apparent reference to the AIDS epidemic.
“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,” she warned.
Walensky implored Americans “to approach this outbreak without stigma and without discrimination.”
The CDC is working to learn more about the outbreak: Samples from the nine identified cases were sent to the CDC for additional confirmatory testing and genomic investigation, Walensky noted, and there are efforts to learn how each individual contracted the virus.
Some of the nine cases have a recent history of international travel to areas with active monkeypox outbreaks, she said, but “others do not.”
The US expects more cases to be diagnosed as the CDC has urged doctors and Americans to be on the lookout for symptoms.
“We shouldn’t be surprised to see more cases reported in the US in the upcoming days. It’s actually a sign that Americans are remaining vigilant, and healthcare providers and public health workers are doing their job,” said Dr. Raj Panjabi, White House senior director for health security and biodefense.