Baby Dies From Herpes After Controversial Circumcision Ritual, Report Says

Baby Dies After Controversial Circumcision Ritual

A baby died at a New York hospital in September after contracting herpes from a controversial circumcision ritual.

The infant died at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, where the cause of death was listed as "disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction," according to the New York Daily News.

Now, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office is looking further into the case, the Jewish Week reports.

The boy is the second New York area infant in recent years to die from complications related to the Orthodox Jewish ritual of metzitzah b'peh, during which "the mohel places his mouth on the freshly circumcised penis to draw blood away from the cut," according to the New York City Department of Heath.

Another infant died in 2005 after contracting herpes from a rabbi who performed the procedure.

At least three infants are thought to have contracted the disease from the same mohel in 2004, but when city officials denounced the practice, Haredi leaders became defensive and alleged government shouldn't impede on a religious ritual, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The mohel in question disputed claims that he was the cause of the infection.

Still, there are other alternatives to the direct mouth to skin contact.

The Rabbincal Council of America supports using a sterilized tube to suction the wound, FOX News observes. In a news release, the organization states the method "absolutely fulfills the precept whilst placing the infant and mohel at no additional risk."

Avi Billet, a South Florida rabbi and mohel, agrees the sterilized method is perhaps the best way to carry out the practice.

"...As a normal thinking person of the 21st century, I don't think it's wise to have the mouth touching an open wound," Billet told the Broward Palm Beach New Times.

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