June 26 | Posted by Robert Herriman
A one-month-old infant from Orange County was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan last week after contracting herpes simplex virus Type 1 (HSV-1) after the ultra-Orthodox Jewish ritual known as metzitzah b’peh was performed.
Public domain photo/Metju12 via Wikimedia Commons
According to a Newsday report Monday, New York City health officials were notified early last week, and tests conducted Friday confirmed the child had the disease. They are now investigating to determine from whom he contracted the virus. The child’s condition is unknown.
This case comes on the heels of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on 11 cases in New York City where newborn males contracted the infection during the metzitzah b’peh.
Newsday reports New York City health officials are considering requiring hospital workers to take genital swabs that would aid forensic investigators in determining the identity of the mohel, much like rape kits have helped identify attackers. This is due to the reluctance of parents to identify the mohel.
New York City also has proposed requiring Orthodox Jewish parents to sign a waiver acknowledging they’re aware of the risk before taking part in the ritual. The city already has sent out alerts to health care providers in Orthodox neighborhoods, informing them of the risks posed by metzitzah b’peh.
Though the practice is not illegal, public health officials said they are trying to prevent the next death while balancing concerns about religious interference.