Mystery infections traced to blood-shedding religious ritual

(AP) Add self-flagellation to the list of ways to get a dangerous viral blood infection.

Researchers said Wednesday that they were initially puzzled how 10 British men had become infected with a little-known virus, because the men hadn’t taken risks usually associated with the infection.

But then investigators learned they had participated in blood-shedding religious rituals — cutting or whipping themselves — in Iraq, Pakistan, India and the United Kingdom.

“There have been suggestions that you might spread infections through this route, but it has never been described before” in a published medical study, said Dr. Divya Dhasmana of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

She is one of the authors of the study released Wednesday in a journal published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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