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Warning about oral signs of monkeypox

Lesions can vary in number and location and resemble other common cuts you get in and around the mouth.

STROUD TOWNSHIP, PA — Just when doctors and nurses at St. Luke's University Health Network, Monroe Campus thought things might be getting better, the hospital is seeing an increase in monkeypox cases.

The disease is most commonly transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids or lesions on someone with the virus.

"In addition to lesions, people will oftentimes have fevers. They'll have a general malaise and not feel well, and they may have enlargement of the lymph glands of their lymph nodes," said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, an infectious disease specialist at St. Luke's.

He's calling on the dental community to be alert for monkeypox because doctors at the hospital have seen oral monkeypox symptoms.

"70 percent of people with monkeypox are going to have mouth lesions, and in many cases, the mouth might be the first area where these lesions are present, so it's very important for dental workers as a whole to be able to recognize this possible so that people can be referred for proper evaluation," Dr. Jahre said.

Lesions can vary in number and size.

"What we try to tell people is that, fortunately, they can resemble the same lesions that we see with canker sores, with cold sores or herpes simplex virus, hand, foot, and mouth disease, or even trauma," Dr. Jahre said.

This shouldn't scare dentists or scare people from going to the dentist, says Jahre. But instead, alert them of what to look out for to provide the right care.

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