By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

New York City health officials report since December 2019, three male infants were diagnosed with neonatal herpes following ritual Jewish circumcision, with the most recent case reported in January 2020.

metzitzah b’peh
Image/NYCDOH (cropped)

All three babies were admitted to the hospital for treatment and are recovering.

Direct orogenital suction (DOS) during ritual Jewish circumcision (also known as metzitzah b’peh) is a practice during which a mohel (religious circumciser) uses his mouth to suck blood away from the penile circumcision wound. DOS can transmit herpes simplex virus (HSV) to newborn males which can cause severe infection, resulting in brain damage, and death.

Since April 2006, when neonatal herpes reporting became mandatory in NYC, there has been a total of 169 babies (male and female) with laboratory-confirmed neonatal herpes infection. Among these, 22 (13%) developed their infections following ritual Jewish circumcision.

Signs and symptoms may include: a vesicular or pustular rash (following DOS, these lesions typically appear on the genitals, groin, buttocks and ankle; fever; poor feeding; irritability; and lethargy. Fever and rash are not always present so, a historical exposure such as DOS should raise suspicion for an atypical presentation of neonatal herpes.

Got Smallpox?