Brooklyn, NY – Authorities are being stonewalled by the family of a newborn boy who died after contracting herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual, the Daily News has learned.
Multiple sources in the Orthodox Jewish community said the 2-week-old boy’s parents were related to a herpes-infected rabbi who conducted the circumcision according to tradition — using one’s mouth to remove blood from the wound.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is investigating the death and trying to identify the rabbi, or mohel, but family members have not been cooperative, sources said.
“You guys are barking up the right tree,” a law enforcement source said of word that the mohel was related to the boy. “But we don’t know yet who did what.”
City health officials have criticized the religious practice, saying that putting the open wound into contact with the mouth of the rabbi carries “inherent risks” for the infant.
The unidentified infant died at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center last Sept. 28. An autopsy listed the cause of death as
“disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction,” according to a spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner.