HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified nine cases of monkeypox in seven states, including Florida and Virginia. Though there are no cases in Alabama, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is monitoring the virus as news cases arise.

ADPH Area Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said she does not equate the monkeypox virus with the threat presented by COVID-19.

“I don’t think we need to put this on the scale of SARS-CoV-2 because it’s not,” Landers told News 19.

Monkeypox may be easier for doctors to diagnose because it presents with a unique looking rash.

“It appears somewhat distinctive, so I do think it’s a situation where clinicians being aware of this will be able to discern whether they need to evaluate and call us and test for this,” Landers said.

The virus is not new, and this isn’t the first time it has appeared in the United States. In 2003, 47 confirmed and probable cases emerged in six states. The infection spread from pet prairie dogs that were housed near a shipment of small mammals from Ghana.

“It’s not overall common, but it is seen in other countries in the world, and we are looking at the clinical information from other countries so we can be aware of this,” Landers explained.

Monkeypox testing is available for doctors to access through ADPH.

The transmission of monkeypox can occur when a person comes into contact with someone else, an animal, or a surface contaminated with the virus. The virus can enter your body through broken skin and the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. Within one to three days, a distinctive rash develops, usually starting on the face and spreading to other parts of the body.

“At this point in time, people just need to be aware and educated, but not alarmed,” Landers said.

The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick animals, especially in areas where monkeypox has occurred. To avoid contracting the disease, wash your hands often and sanitize surfaces that come into contact with someone who is sick.