N.Y. Baby Contracts Herpes From Controversial Circumcision Rite

This is the fourth case of herpes this year and the 17th since 2000 resulting from the practice known as metzitzah b’peh, according to city health officials.

Circumcision (illustration)
Circumcision (illustration)Credit: Dreamstime

A newborn baby in New York has contracted herpes due to the controversial circumcision ritual that involves cleaning the wound by oral suction.

This is the fourth case of herpes this year and the 17th since 2000 resulting from the practice known as metzitzah b’peh, according to city health officials cited by the New York Daily News. Of those 17, two babies have died and at least two others suffered brain damage. The latest case was first reported by Capital New York.

According to the Daily News, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the procedure is perfumed 3,600 times a year in New York City. It is mostly practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Under former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city required any mohel, or circumciser, to get signed consent from the baby's parents acknowledging the potential dangers. The policy sparked outrage among some ultra-Orthodox Jews who felt their religious freedom was being violated.

Dr. Thomas Farley, the city health commissioner under Bloomberg, "strongly advised" the practice "never be performed."

Prior to his election, current Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to address the issue while speaking at a Jewish Press forum with other mayoral candidates.

“I would start over,” de Blasio said. “Change the policy to find a way to protect all the children but also respect religious tradition in an appropriate manner and come in Day 1 to City Hall with a new policy that's fair.”

Thus far, no policy changes have been enacted under de Blasio.

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