US health officials warn of Orthodox circumcision rite (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Ynet Published: 06.09.12, 12:14)
YNet News - Yediot Achronot
YNet News - Yediot Achronot Articles-Index-Top
New York City health officials say ritual dubbed ´oral-genital
sunction,´ or ´Metzitzah b´peh,´ can triple chances of newborns
contracting herpes virus
US health officials are warning that a Jewish ritual called "oral-
genital suction," performed during some Orthodox circumcision
ceremonies, can significantly increase the risk of infants
contracting herpes virus infections.
The New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley issued a
public advisory cautioning against the ritual, after 11 infants were
reportedly infected with the virus since 2000, two cases resulting in
death and another two cases leading to brain damage.
Oral-genital suction, known as metzitzah b´peh, can put infants at
risk of infection because the adult performing the circumcision
places his mouth on the circumcision wound to suck blood away from
the cut. The ritual is conducted by very few sects within the
Orthodox Jewish community.
"There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a
newborn," Farley said in a statement. "Parents considering ritual
Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be
performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that
create open cuts, whether by mohelim or medical professionals," he
Farley added that several hospitals, including those serving the
haredi Orthodox Jewish community, have agreed to distribute a
brochure that describes the risk of contracting the herpes virus from
According to a report published by the US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention´s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, as high as
80% of adults carry the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is usually
spread orally through common activities and is different from the
sexually transmitted type 2 version of the virus.
The report states that the Jewish circumcision ritual more than
triples the risk of infection among newborns.
"The infections we´re talking about are not the ones people normally
associate with sexual type interaction," said New York´s deputy
health commissioner, Dr. Jay Varma.
"Many actually acquire herpes type 1 when they are children, because
it can be gotten through very casual contact. This causes what people
commonly call cold sores in the mouth," he noted, adding that "we´re
not implying in any way that these mohel have done anything untoward
in a sexual context. The point is that regardless if you´re a mohel
or someone else, having direct contact with the mouth and an open
wound is a hazard." (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 06/09/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY