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Another infant infected with herpes after Jewish circumcision ritual

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Another infant has been infected with herpes following a bizarre Jewish circumcision ritual where ultra-Orthodox clergy suck the blood off a newborn's penis after circumcision.

A Jan. 30 report issued by the Jewish Daily Forward notes another baby boy was infected with neonatal herpes following a Jewish ritual circumcision in New York — the third such infection in two years.

The ritual Jewish circumcision, known as metzitzah b'peh, involves the practitioner, or mohel, placing his mouth around the baby's penis to suck the blood off the penis in order to “ritually cleanse the wound.”

According to the New York City Health Department, ultra-Orthodox ritual Jewish circumcision has been linked to the spread of herpes,a potentially deadly virus for infants. The New York City Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Control reports there have been 14 such case in New York City since 2000. Two of those infants died, and two others have suffered significant brain damage as a result.

Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University,comments on the controversial and dangerous religious ritual:

"First, these are serious infections in newborns, and second, there is no safe way an individual can perform oral suction on an open wound. Third, these terrible infections are completely preventable. They should not occur in the 21st century with our scientific knowledge."

Because of the risks of metzitzah b'peh, New York City instituted a consent form in January 2012. Mohels were directed to ask parents to sign the form, which spells out the risks of MBP before it is performed.

A department of health spokeswoman declined to say whether a consent form was signed in this latest case. “We are currently investigating the case and won’t discuss its details,” the spokeswoman said.

What do you think about metzitzah b'peh? Is this child abuse, or acceptable religious practice? Do parents have the moral right to expose their infant sons’ to the potential risks involved in the procedure? Leave a comment - express yourself.

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