"We developed this law…to balance the right of people to practice religion with the requirements of a health agency to protect everybody, especially the most vulnerable. We require their cooperation and it's a challenge." The health department took no action against the mohel who performed the circumcision and allegedly gave the baby herpes because the baby's parents would not reveal his identity, and it took no action against those parents – who told the health department that they had not been given an informed consent to sign before the circumcision.
ABC News reports:
…Last year, the New York City Board of Health voted to require parents to sign a written consent that warns them of the risks of this practice. None of the parents of the two boys who were recently infected signed the form, according Jay Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Varma said it was "too early to tell" if the babies will suffer long-term health consequences from the infection.
Since 2000, there have been 13 cases of herpes associated with the ritual, including two deaths and two other babies with brain damage.
Neonatal herpes infections can cause death or disability among infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"First, these are serious infections in newborns and second, there is no safe way an individual can perform oral suction on an open wound," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. "Third, these terrible infections are completely preventable. They should not occur in the 21st century with our scientific knowledge.…
“Social health policy is art of the possible and [New York City's] Bloomberg administration and the department of health worked with the [ultra-Orthodox] community to develop a policy that it hoped was both acceptable and effective," said infectious disease expert Schaffner. "That was the hope.
"It's clear the implementation of policy is not completely effective and that it resulted in serious, but preventable infections," he said. "Perhaps the policy needs to be revisited."
Varma said changing traditional practices in New York's ultra-Orthodox community will take time.
"We developed this law ... to balance the right of people to practice religion with the requirements of a health agency to protect everybody, especially the most vulnerable.
"We require their cooperation and it's a challenge," said Varma.
The health department could take no action against the rabbi who performed the circumcision because the parents would not reveal his identity.