Patients of Lehigh Valley dentist told to get tested for HIV, hepatitis

State health officials have warned that former patients of a Lehigh Valley dentist "might be at risk" of infection due to unsanitary procedures at the practice.

The joint announcement came Tuesday from the state Department of Health and Department of State regarding dentist Palmer J. Cotturo, of Cotturo Dental Associates in Mount Bethel.

The practice closed its doors on Aug. 23. Cotturo voluntarily surrendered his license to the Department of State on Sept. 14, per officials.

"The inadequate infection control procedures at this practice could create the potential for harm, so we are recommending patients get tested," said Dr. Rachel Levine, the secretary of health.

Concerns over Cotturio's dental facility stemmed from a complaint, said state department spokesman Nate Wardle. There is no indication anyone became ill after being treated at the practice, according to Wardle, though he acknowledged that any "potential illnesses" are confidential.

State officials say patients of the practice "might be at risk" for infections, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Officials recommend medical testing for patients who have had procedures performed at the office -- such as cleanings, fillings, implants and denture fittings -- since Jan. 1, 2007.

Investigators say Cotturo Dental Associates did not follow appropriate procedures to properly clean, disinfect or sterilize devices.

Wardle cited the infrequency of shutting down a facility due to unsanitary conditions.

For more information, patients may call 1-877-724-3258.