Baby Contracts Neonatal Herpes After Metzitzah B’Peh

by Sandy Eller – VIN News

The first confirmed case in 2017 of neo-natal herpes that is directly linked to metzitzah b’peh has been confirmed by the New York City Department of Health, prompting the city to send out an alert warning medical personnel to be on the alert for additional cases.

The DOH bulletin said that the baby in question was born after a full term pregnancy and displayed no health issues at birth.  15 days later the baby developed a rash that was diagnosed as herpes simplex on several parts of his body and was admitted to the hospital for a two week course of intravenous antibiotics.  Doctors said that the timing and location of the rash, as well as the symptoms, were consistent with transmission of the virus via metzitzah b’peh.

Just two cases of babies contracting neonatal herpes linked to metzitzah b’peh were reported to the DOH in 2016, with three incidents reported in 2015.  Of the 24 cases of metzitzah b’peh related neonatal herpes reported in New York City since 2000, two babies died and two more sustained brain damage.

Metzitzah b’peh has long been the subject of controversy in New York City, with former mayor Michael Bloomberg enacting legislation that required parents to sign a consent form in order to allow the mohel to do metzitzah b’peh.  Mayor Bill de Blasio repealed the Bloomberg instituted regulations in 2015 as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2lEPLVI).

A “Safe Bris” page on the DOH website explains possible concerns related to metzitzah b’peh and offers precautions, alternatives and downloadable Yiddish brochures and posters.  According to the DOH, parents whose babies contracted neonatal herpes have said that they never saw the Safe Bris information.

The alert advised the medical community to be on the alert for possible cases of neonatal herpes in any babies less than 61 days old and to ask parents of affected babies if metzitzah b’peh had been performed at the bris.  Practitioners were also instructed to distribute the Safe Bris literature to their patients in order to better educate prospective parents.

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9 Comments

  • 3. DaasTorah wrote:

    Herpes is a lifelong infection. Let’s see how easy it will be for this child to find a shidduch when he grows up. MBP is definitely not halacho and it doesn’t need to be happening when there is such a mamish sakanah!

    Reply
    • 4. Milhouse wrote:

      Metzitzoh is definitely halocho, and therefore would have to be done even if there were a non-negligible risk (which there isn’t).

      Whether it can be done through a straw is a machlokes haposkim of the 19th century, and while those who use a straw have great poskim they can rely on, many others, equally great, held that it’s forbidden, and the suction must be applied directly. Thus nobody on either side of this debate has the right to tell those on the other side that their position is “not halocho”.

      We must, of course, do whatever we can within halocho to minimize the risk, but at the end of the day not only is the risk from metzitzoh negligible, even without a straw, but even if it weren’t we would still be required to accept the risk and do it, just as we are required to accept the risk of miloh itself.

  • 5. Milhouse wrote:

    The article contradicts itself. The hed and lede brag about a “confirmed case […] directly linked to metzitzah b’peh”, but in the second graf that changes to “the timing and location of the rash, as well as the symptoms, were consistent with transmission of the virus via metzitzah b’peh”, which is not the same thing at all.

    Just because it’s consistent with this method of transmission doesn’t mean that’s how it was transmitted. Where’s the confirmation? Was the mohel asked for a sample, as the agreement between the city and the mohalim provides for? If so, did he provide it? If so, did it test positive for the virus, and if so did its DNA match the baby’s virus? None of these questions are asked, let alone answered.

    It sounds like the same irresponsible propagandists — ochrei yisroel — who drove the sensational reporting that led to Bloomberg’s illegal regulation are still hard at work. Please don’t give them a platform here. Metzitza is an integral part of milah (as proved by the rule regarding tzitzin she’inon me’akvin on Shabbos), and we won’t give it up under any pressure.

    Reply
  • 6. Mohels wife wrote:

    My husband used to get regular blood tests to make sure that he was not a carrier of herpes simplex.
    In addition , he would rinse out his mouth before doing the metitzah with whisky(the cheap variety)

    Reply
  • 7. Your ignorance is astounding. wrote:

    Firstly, a cold sore on the lip is herpes. How many people get cold sores? And I’m sure they got shidduchim as easily as anyone. Secondly, a person is only contagious DURING AN OUTBREAK. My mom suffers from cold sores a lot and when we were kids she wouldn’t wear lipstick or kiss us goodnight when she had one. She even used her own cup and flatware which she washed separately. None of us ever caught it. Before you all start panicking, do your homework.

    I hope the baby is recovered now.

    Reply
  • 9. #7 wrote:

    Sorry but actually YOUR ignorance is “outstanding” ! Two very different diseases, both called herpes – but one is genital & leads to lifelong and very serious complications, both for men and for women ( risk of death or serious disability for newborn if the mother has active genital herpes during birth.) What is being written about in this article is most definitely not your mother’s cold sores ! You are obviously online, so google this topic and educate yourself.

    Reply

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