A herpes epidemic in babies in New York has exploded over the last three months after a controversial ‘religious oral circumcision’ conducted by ultra-Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, which allows them to suck blood from the child penis.
The latest case, which saw the number of infected infants rapidly increase, two of which suffered brain damage while the other two died from the virus, has prompted an investigation from health authorities.
The controversial ultra-Orthodox Jewish practice, known as metzitzah b’peh, allows the Rabbi to suck the babies penis in order to ‘cleanse’ the wound following the bloody circumcision.
The practice has now caused many infants to succumb to the herpes virus due to infections from the open wound.
Later the child tested positive for HSV-1, which is different from HSV-2, genital herpes contracted through sexual penetration.
“A herpes infection in a newborn baby has the risk of leading to severe illness and death,” Jay Varma from New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told ABC NEWS
‘The reason is that the baby doesn’t have the same fully developed immune system as an adult. Instead of staying in the genital area, it extends throughout different organs in the body,’ he warned.
“Only time will tell if the children suffer permanent effects from this practice.”
Up to now, the health department has been unable to step in because the child parents have refused to release the identity of the Rabbi who performed the practice.
Modern Jewish practices have opted to use a sterile aspiration device thus avoiding contact with the baby’s penis, but some Rabbi’s opt for the old ‘traditional’ method of actually “sucking” the infant’s genitals on the grounds o ‘religious freedom.’