The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is encouraging city hospitals to give the parents of newborns pamphlets warning against the dangers of a certain kind of ritual circumcisions. This particular ancient ceremony is really only practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews, and has been scientifically proven to be icky: after the actual incision, the mohel performing the circumcision is to suck the blood away from the, uh, affected area, and spit it into a spittoon. This is evidently to clean the fresh wound.

It also transmits a nasty little virus called herpes simplex type 1, which doesn’t actually affect adults in any noticeable way, but can be deadly to infants. Yesterday, members of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said two newborns have died as a result of the procedure, while two others sustained brain damage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New York City hospitals have agreed to distribute the fliers. (Photo: Adam Fagen/Flickr)