N.Y. newborn contracts herpes from circumcision rite

(JTA) — The parents of a Jewish newborn who reportedly contracted neonatal herpes following a controversial circumcision rite did not sign the required consent form.

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the newborn is the second in three months to contract the virus due to metzitzah b’peh, in which the circumciser uses his mouth to draw blood from the baby’s penis.

The baby’s parents did not sign the form advising that "direct oral suction should not be performed" because of the risk of contracting herpes, a recently required New York City health board regulation, and they have refused to identify the mohel, or ritual circumciser, who apparently is carrying the virus, The Forward reported. 

At least 11 boys contracted herpes from the practice between 2004 and 2011, according to New York City health officials. Two died from the disease and two others suffered brain damage, the officials said.

Last September, the board of health voted 9-0 to require mohels to obtain the signed consent forms. Several months earlier, the city had struck an agreement with city hospitals to distribute pamphlets about the ritual’s dangers to the mothers of newborns.

Using oral suction to take blood from the area of the circumcision wound is common in some of New York’s haredi Orthodox communities.
 

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