"In March 2013, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received a report of a new case of HSV-1 in a newborn male attributable to direct oral suction [metzitzah b'peh]. This is the second such case reported in New York City in a 3-month span and the 13th such case since 2000."
Dear Health Alert Network (HAN) Subscriber:
2013 ALERT # 7
UPDATE: Neonatal herpes infection following ritual Jewish circumcision
Please Share This Alert with All Emergency Medicine, Pediatric, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Microbiology Laboratory Staff
• Second case in 3 months of neonatal herpes in a male newborn following ritual Jewish circumcision reported in New York City
• When evaluating a newborn for sepsis, consider herpes infection and, for recently circumcised males, inquire about direct oral suction during ritual Jewish circumcision
April 3, 2013
Direct oral suction of the infant penis during ritual Jewish circumcision (metzitzah b’peh) has been documented to transmit herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 to newborn males (1-5). In March 2013, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received a report of a new case of HSV-1 in a newborn male attributable to direct oral suction. This is the second such case reported in New York City in a 3-month span and the 13th such case since 2000.
Similar to previous cases, the March case developed vesicular lesions on the scrotum in the weeks after ritual circumcision, and HSV-1 was isolated from lesions. In this specific case, the infant developed fever 7 days after circumcision and vesicular lesions the following day, and HSV-1 was isolated from lesions on the genitals. The infant had disseminated herpes infection but survived. Because only 70% of babies with neonatal herpes have vesicular lesions and 40% have fever at presentation, health care providers should consider herpes infection in infants being evaluated for sepsis, even in the absence of fever or vesicular lesions. In recently circumcised males, providers should also inquire about direct oral suction during ritual Jewish circumcision.
New York City law requires that health care providers:
• Report all cases of neonatal herpes (clinically diagnosed and laboratory-confirmed) to DOHMH. Case report forms can be found at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/hcp/hcp-urf2.shtml).
• Collect vesicular swab specimens from all infants with suspected HSV infection, not just those following ritual Jewish circumcision. Specimens should be sent to the New York State Wadsworth Center Laboratories for diagnostic testing via their local clinical laboratory. Guidance regarding specimen collection and shipping can be found at: https://a816-health29ssl.nyc.gov/sites/NYCHAN/Lists/AlertUpdateAdvisoryDocuments/HAN_MBPandNewRegs.pdf
DOHMH advises providers to consult with a pediatric infectious disease specialist when evaluating and managing an infant with suspected herpes infection. A complete diagnostic evaluation for suspected neonatal HSV includes collection of multiple specimen types for herpes testing, including cerebral spinal fluid, and liver function tests (6).
Julia A. Schillinger, MD, MSc
Director of Surveillance, Epidemiology, Research
Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Control
Susan Blank, MD, MPH
Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Control
1. Rubin L, Lanzkowsky P. Cutaneous neonatal herpes simplex infection associated with ritual
circumcision. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2000;19(3):266-7.
2. Distel R, Hofer V, Bogger-Goren S, Shalit I, Garty BZ. Primary genital herpes simplex
infection associated with Jewish ritual circumcision. Israeli Medical Association Journal
3. Gesundheit B, Grisaru-Soen G, Greenberg D, et al. Neonatal genital herpes simplex virus
type 1 infection after Jewish ritual circumcision: modern medicine and religious tradition.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neonatal herpes simplex virus infection
following Jewish ritual circumcisions that included direct orogenital suction – New York
City, 2000-2011. MMWR 2012;61:405-409.
5. Koren A,Tasher D, Stein M, Yossepowitch O, Somekh E. Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Infections in Israel. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013;32: 120–123
6. American Academy of Pediatrics. Red Book: 2012 Report of the Committee on Infectious
Diseases. Pickering LK, ed. 29th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics;
The Jewish Week adds that the baby's parents were not given an informed consent form by the mohel as required by law, and were uncooperative with health department investigators. Despite this, no legal action against the parents or the mohel has been taken:
The mother of an infant who contracted herpes following a bris with direct oral suction last month denied receiving the required consent form from the mohel, whose name both parents refused to disclose to the New York City Department of Health, The Jewish Week has learned.
A rule requiring parents to give informed consent before a bris involving direct oral suction, or metzitzah b’peh, went into effect in New York City in January.
According to the city’s health department, the infant “developed vesicular lesions (small, saclike bodies) on the scrotum in the weeks after ritual circumcision” and the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and “was isolated from lesions.” According to a health department spokesperson, the parents say they never received the requisite consent form from the mohel.…
According to a spokesperson for the health department, no legal action is being taken despite the absence of a consent form.…