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North Dakota bishop exposes 100s to hepatitis A

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:23 a.m. HST, Oct 25, 2013

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The bishop of the Fargo Catholic Diocese exposed potentially hundreds of churchgoers in two North Dakota cities to the hepatitis A virus in late September and early October.

The state Health Department has issued an advisory of exposure for anyone who was served communion at services attended by Bishop John Folda at four churches in Fargo and Jamestown during that time. The hepatitis A virus is rarely deadly but can cause serious liver problems. It is usually transmitted through exposure to an infected person or through contaminated food or drinks.

"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," State Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell said in a statement Thursday.

It is not known how many churchgoers might have been exposed.

Folda contracted the liver disease from contaminated food while attending a conference for newly ordained bishops in Italy last month, the diocese said Monday. He has been traveling extensively since he was ordained in June but has been taking time off work since Oct. 10 due to the virus, diocese spokeswoman Aliceyn Magelky told The Forum.

"He has improved greatly," Magelky said. "He is doing just fine; he is slowly getting back to his regular schedule."

Folda attended and participated in communion distribution 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.

One parishioner who was exposed said she isn't too concerned.

"We pray for (Folda), and I'm not too worried about getting hepatitis," Terry Pennebaker, of Fargo, told WDAY-TV.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stools or jaundice. Symptoms can take 15 to 50 days to appear. People who develop symptoms are urged to consult a doctor. Health officials do not recommend that people get tested if they do not have symptoms.

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hikine wrote:
Hepatitis when active is very painful. I noticed that people who handle the wafers and wine during church services don't wash or disinfect their hands prior to preparing and giving it to it's congregation.
on October 25,2013 | 04:28AM
Sid_Hartha wrote:
Are you saying the Body of Christ carries disease? Oh ye of little faith...
on October 25,2013 | 04:51AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Sid, I take the host, but I NEVER drink from the cup.
on October 25,2013 | 07:36AM
mikethenovice wrote:
The Bible does episodes of sin by sinners. Take the bad with the good.
on October 25,2013 | 05:27AM
walkintosh wrote:
Hep A vaccine is readily available and prevents catching Hep A. This Hep A alert in ND will hopefully serves as a reminder for more people to catch up on their immunizations.
on October 25,2013 | 06:11AM
krusha wrote:
Those parishioners probably will try to pray the disease away from their infected like they try to pray the gay away from people...
on October 25,2013 | 07:05AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Yikes! Scary scary! If this happened in Hawaii, All lie would have a field day. Since it happened in her home state, what does all lie have to say about this horrible, scary incident?
on October 25,2013 | 07:38AM
cojef wrote:
She is a non parishioner? she is an indian princess. ND has afamous indian tribe, "flatheads".
on October 25,2013 | 07:45AM
Aquarius1 wrote:
That's one of the problems with the Catholic Church, sharing of the cup and how the communion wafers are distributied. The church is still stuck in the dark ages with regards to many practices and edicts. Get with the times and perhaps you'll see more followers.
on October 25,2013 | 08:28AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Yeah, because modernizing the way parishioners receive communion is a fantastic recruitment tool Try again.
on October 25,2013 | 10:26AM
Slow wrote:
A guy is married to a virgin and believes that she is pregnant from an angel. Later we eat the offspring's body and drink his blood. Isn't it time to put away the stories? The pope seems to be taking the church in a more sensible direction which is nice. Is washing hands a sign of the devil? You never know when voluntary belief in superstition prevails over science and reason.
on October 25,2013 | 08:50AM
awahana wrote:
Thank GOD, I don't attend church.
on October 25,2013 | 11:06AM
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