Mystery infections traced to blood-shedding religious ritual

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 file photo, Shiite Muslim men beat themselves with knives attached to chains during a procession to mark Ashoura in Kabul, Afghanistan. In a report released on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, researchers say self-flagellation should be added to the list of ways to spread a dangerous viral blood infection. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

NEW YORK (AP) — Researchers say self-flagellation should be added to the list of ways to spread a dangerous viral blood infection.

They studied 10 British men who became infected with a little-known virus. For a while, it was mystery how they got it. They hadn't taken the risks usually associated with spread of the disease, such as sex with multiple partners or injecting illegal drugs.

But then investigators learned they had participated in blood-shedding religious rituals in Iraq, Pakistan, India, or the United Kingdom. One such ritual involves striking the forehead with a knife and then passing it along to other men.

Their study was released Wednesday by a U.S. journal.

The men were infected with HTLV-1, which is rarely seen in England and the United States.

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