Two more infants have been infected with herpes following mouth-to-penis circumcision rites
BOTH the New York infant boys are believed to have contracted the disease following metzitzah b’peh, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ritual in which the circumciser places his lips on the infant’s penis to suction blood from the circumcision wound.
But despite warnings issued by health authorities after similar cases – two of them fatal – had occurred in the past, ultra-Orthodox groups insist that MBP is safe and many circumcisers (mohels) refuse to comply with a regulation that forced mohels to get written consent from parents before performing the rite.
Since 2000, 16 infants in New York City are suspected of contracting herpes following MBP. Two of those babies died and at least two others suffered brain damage.
In the first of the newest cases reported in an alert issued by the New York City Department of Health , the baby had pustular lesions on the penis and genital area. He tested positive for herpes and was admitted to hospital for intravenous treatment.
In the second case, the baby developed lesions on his penis, thigh, and foot. The health alert did not say how the baby’s symptoms were treated.
The alert stated that both cases were consistent with transmission of herpes:
During direct contact between the mouth of the ritual circumciser and the newly circumcised infant penis.
The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has tried to warn parents of the risks of MBP, which is particularly prevalent among the city’s ultra-Orthodox Jews.
In January, 2013, the city instituted a regulation that forced mohels to get written consent from parents, but since the regulation was enforced, four infants have contracted the disease.
Hat tip: Ivan Bailey