Two more babies in New York City’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community have been stricken with herpes following a controversial ritual circumcision practice, reports ABC News.
During this ritual, the mohel gathers a mouthful of wine and then orally sucks the boy’s penis to cleanse the wound following circumcision.
While proponents of the controversial practice say that it prevents infection, opponents of metzitzah b’peh argue that it can lead to cases of herpes virus in young boys.
According to ABC News, one of the two babies stricken with herpes had a lesion develop on his scrotum seven days after the circumcision ritual. The health department confirmed that the tests for HSV-1 were positive.
ABC News reports that since the start of the new millennium, there have been 13 cases of herpes linked to the ritual, including two deaths.
The religious practice that dates back to more than 5,000 years defies warning by the city’s department of health which says there is no safe way to perform the oral suction on an open wound. More modern Jewish practices use a sterile aspiration device to clean the wound or a pipette opposed to the oral sucking. But some rabbis stand grounded behind the practice, calling it a religious freedom while noting its long history.
In September the department voted to require parents to sign forms consenting to the risks of the practice after the death of two children who contracted the virus through the practice. The parents of those newly infected boys are said to have not signed those forms.
According to Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America, two-thirds of boys born in New York City’s Hasidic communities are circumcised in the oral suction matter.
The health department claims they’ve had complaints in past by parents who say they weren’t made aware that the oral practice would be performed on their child.
According to a post from Science-Based Medicine in 2008, “risks are minimal if the procedure is done under sterile conditions by an experienced operator. ” Surgical practices have come a long way in 5,000 years, and a great deal of harm can be dealt when those advances are ignored.