Saturday, April 6, 2013
Two Jewish infants in two months have contracted neonatal herpes from oral suctioning conducted during ritual circumcision, according to New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Conducted by some mohels (Jewish circumcision practitioners) in ultra-Orthodox circles, the procedure involves orally sucking away blood from the infant’s genital area after the ritual, which is called a bris. In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died. Another died in 2010. In the last decade, 11 babies in New York City have contracted the virus, and two have had brain damage, according to health officials. All were circumcised by the metzitzah b’peh method. According to a study published in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in June 2012, one in 4,098 New York City male newborns have either contracted or were probably exposed to the herpes virus due to this circumcision ritual. New York approved a circumcision consent form in September 2012, requiring parents who choose to undergo the ritual to sign a waiver that explains the risks and dangers of having the procedure done.