Religious circumcision ritual leaves another Jewish baby with herpes

Another newborn boy has contracted herpes after a controversial Jewish circumcision ritual — the fourth case this year and the 17th since 2000, city health officials said Wednesday.

The baby was rushed to the hospital 12 days after undergoing the ancient ritual, known as metzitzah b’peh, which involves cleaning the circumcision wound by oral suction.

The unidentified boy has recovered, but two of the other infected infants since 2000 died, and at least two suffered brain damage.

The oral suction ritual is practiced by a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that it is performed 3,600 times a year in New York city.

Some Orthodox rabbis contend there’s no medical proof that babies can became sick due to the circumcisions.

In the latest case, however, the Health Department said the newborn’s symptoms, the timing of the herpes outbreak and laboratory confirmation of the herpes simplex type 1 virus “are consistent” with transmission as a result of the oral suction procedure.

The new case was first reported by Capital New York.

In 2012, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city enacted a regulation requiring that anyone who performs the ritual obtain a signed consent form from parents acknowledging the potential health risks.

But the regulation is nearly impossible to enforce and it is often ignored.

In the latest case, it was not immediately clear whether the person who conducted the circumcision obtained a signed consent form.

As a candidate, Bill de Blasio voiced dissatisfaction with the 2012 regulation.

He vowed to “change the policy and find a way to protect all the children but also respect religious tradition … and come in Day 1 to City Hall with a new policy that is fair.”

Some ultra-Orthodox Jews took de Blasio’s remarks as a sign that he was sympathetic to their concerns the regulation was an unnecessary intrusion.

A year has passed since he took office, but de Blasio has not yet come up with a new policy.