New research suggests that mild cases of the monkeypox disease could lead doctors to misdiagnose it, potentially contributing to the continued spread of the virus.

A study form an international team of researchers, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, claims that isolated lesions characteristic of the disease may cause health officials to diagnose it as a different sexually transmitted infection such as herpes. 

“These different presentations highlight that monkeypox infections could be missed or easily confused with common sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis or herpes,” John Thornhill, an HIV doctor and professor at Queen Mary University who contributed to the research, said in a statement. 

Thornhill suggested “broadening the current case definitions” in order to capture more diagnoses of the disease.

The disease has thus far been identified almost entirely in gay men, particularly those who have multiple sexual partners in a short amount of time.

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