Another baby has been infected with neonatal herpes transmitted to him through metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by many haredi mohels after removing the baby’s foreskin.
Above: a Chabad mohel does MBP last fall in Crown Heights
Another Baby Gets Herpes From Dangerous Haredi Circumcision Practice
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Another baby has been infected with neonatal herpes transmitted to him through metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by many haredi mohels after removing the baby’s foreskin, Capital New York reported.
Neonatal HSV-1 can maim and even kill infants. Once contracted, the virus never leaves the body and can be (and often is) transmitted to others through sex, kissing, sharing drinking glasses and through other contact. Recent studies show having the virus doubles the risk of getting Alzheimer’s Disease.
There have been four reported cases of MBP-transmitted neonatal herpes this year and 17 since 2000. But these numbers are deceptive, in part because there was no requirement to report cases to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or the state until 2006, and in part because hospitals and clinics serving large haredi populations allegedly under-report cases to keep their haredi clientele happy.
Of those 17 known cases, two babies died and at least two more have suffered brain damage.
Haredim led by Agudath Israel of America and Satmar are currently suing New York City to block the city’s informed consent requirement for MBP. Chabad and many other hasidic groups are also strongly opposed to the informed consent or any attempts by government to regulate MBP.
According to Capital New York, the most recent case is a boy born in November. Twelve days after his MBP circumcision, the baby was taken to a pediatrician because of fussiness after feedings. The baby had a “cluster of papules” on his penis. The pediatrician sent the baby to a dermatologist who in turn sent the baby to the ER.
Last fall, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised Satmar he would repeal the informed consent requirement if elected. In exchange, he was given Satmar’s bloc vote.
But publicity over the promise – largely generated by a video posted on FailedMessiah.com – made it difficult for de Blasio to scuttle it. Instead, de Blasio’s administration has done little to nothing to enforce the requirement as it looks for a new way to deal with the MBP problem.
Public health experts and a wide range of physicians and scientists note MBP’s inherent dangers and want the practice banned.
De Blasio’s office reportedly did not respond to a request for comment.
In the 1800s, waves of herpes, syphilis and other infections were transmitted by MBP, killing hundreds of babies in Europe. Doctors, many of them Jewish, told top rabbis to ban MBP and some – especially in Lithuania along with England, France and other Western European countries – did ban it. In the areas where MBP was banned, the infections and deaths stopped.
However, hasidic rebbes and others fighting against both the Enlightenment and the Reform Movement saw the bans on MBP as giving in to their Reform and Enlightenment enemies and refused to ban the dangerous practice – even though it is not technically a mandatory part of the biblically-ordained circumcision rite.