Despite the 4 new cases of herpes infections in newborns from September to December 2019 in the New York City alone, the American healthcare system is being passive over metzitzah b’peh, an element of Brit milah (Jewish circumcision rite), practiced exclusively among the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities.
The imminent risk of metzitzah b’peh lies on the mohel (circumciser) who “cleanses” the circumcision wound by “direct oral suction” – yes, you read that right, a grown man sucks the blood out of a fresh wound from a baby penis. The mohel’s saliva that comes in direct contact with an open wound on newborns can expose them to herpes (HSV-1), which is harmless to adults but life-threatening to newborns who lack the immune system for it. Between 2015 and 2017 six more cases of herpes infections were reported, but families of affected boys didn’t want to disclose the name of the mohalim involved in fear of retaliation, while claiming that there is a “conspiracy” to have their rite banned. At least other eleven boys contracted herpes between 2004 and 2011 as well – two of which died and two who suffered brain damage.
Since 2006 the City of New York health department has implemented protocols to “minimize” risks associated with the practice – such having mohelim take herpes tests and use anticeptic mouth wash prior to the ritual; none of which that has proven to eliminate the risk of infection. And to this day the practice remains unregulated and legal, while the NYC health department seeks to give the illusion of “risk control” to the public by promoting what they call a “safe” bris through brochures and posters, including disturbing pictures of herpes symptoms on newborns for parents to seek medical attention when needed – when it all could be avoided by outlawing an obsolete (and rather perverted) practice that has no place on this modern day.