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North Dakota Warns of Hepatitis A Exposure From Church Communion

The North Dakota Department of Health is warning people who attended four Catholic churches and took communion on specific dates may have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus.

The possible exposures occurred at the Sept. 27 school mass at Holy Spirit Church in Fargo, the Sept. 29-Oct. 2 priest convention at St. James Basilica in Jamestown, the Oct. 6 noon mass at Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, and the Oct. 7 mass at St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center in Fargo.

INFORUM is reporting that Fargo Catholic Diocese Bishop John Folda, who attended and participated in these communion distributions, is taking time off after contracting the liver infection from contaminated food while attending a conference for newly ordained bishops in Italy in September.

“The risk of people getting Hepatitis A in this situation is low, but the Department of Health felt it was important for people to know about the possible exposure,” said Molly Howell, Immunization Program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health, in a statement Thursday. “Only people who attended these specific churches and had communion on these dates were possibly exposed to Hepatitis A and should be tested if symptomatic.”

Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stools or jaundice (yellowing of skin or the whites of the eyes). It can take about 15 to 50 days (the average is one month) after being exposed to develop symptoms.

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