The Forward's Steven I. Weiss reports:
The controversy over a disputed circumcision ritual could affect the mayor's race in New York City, as some members of the Hasidic community are promising to protest any restrictions placed on the mohel in question.
Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer has been the subject of an investigation by the city's health department since three infants tested positive for herpes simplex, one of whom later died. At issue is whether Fischer transmitted the virus to the infants via direct oral suction of the circumcision wound — a method known as metzitzah b'peh, a traditional ritual still prevalent in many Orthodox communities.
Since the investigation was first revealed in February, the department has obtained a court-issued temporary restraining order "consented to by the mohel" that "prevents him from performing the metzitzah b'peh," according to a lawyer heading the city's legal action on the case. The attorney added that "the proceeding brought by the city to compel the mohel to provide a blood sample has been adjourned several times."
The health department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have stated repeatedly at meetings with ultra-Orthodox leaders that a general ban on the practice is not in the cards. One such meeting, with 22 Hasidic rabbis, took place August 11 at City Hall.
Rabbi Hillel Weinberg of the Central Rabbinical Congress, a Satmar organization, attended the meeting and told the Forward that Bloomberg "says that he's not considering" a ban on the practice. However, Weinberg added, the Satmar community would consider any restriction placed on Fischer to be a ban and would cause a reaction that could hurt Bloomberg at the polls in the upcoming election.…
The issue of regulating some or all ritual circumcisers as a means of preventing herpes is a complicated issue, since an estimated 90% of the American population carries the antibodies for the virus and it is hard — perhaps impossible — to predict which individuals are more likely than others to spread it. Some groups, including the Modern Orthodox-dominated Rabbinical Council of America, have recommended using a sterile tube and gloves to avoid direct oral contact — but that option has been rejected by Hasidic sects and by [many] other ultra-Orthodox communities as religiously unacceptable.
See this article for a rundown of the four major halakhic positions on metzitza b'peh.