A controversial circumcision practice has led to the infection of a New York City baby with neonatal herpes, according to the city’s health department.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced Tuesday in a press release that the case was reported in November and resulted “following ritual Jewish circumcision with direct orogenital suction,” a practice known as metzitzah b’peh. This is the fourth such case in 2014 and the 17th since 2000, according to the health department. Two of those cases have resulted in death and another two in brain damage.
Metzitzah b’peh, in which the mohel sucks blood from the wound following circumcision, is a common traditional practice among many haredi Orthodox mohels. When performed directly with the mouth (as opposed to through a sterile pipette), it has been directly linked to the transmission of the herpes virus. New York City health department regulations require the parents of a child to provide prior written consent for the practice, but the regulation has not been enforced.