Communion and hepatitis A are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. But health officials in New York are concerned that parishioners at a Long Island church who took Communion on Christmas Day may have been exposed to hepatitis A. Church-goers in attendance that day are being urged to get a hepatitis A vaccine shot.
A statement issued Monday by the Nassau County Health Department to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park said: "Individuals may be at risk if they received Communion during the 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon masses on December 25, 2010."
Hepatitis A is a virus transmitted by eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. It’s rarely fatal, unlike other forms -- Hepatitis C in particular -- of the liver disease.
Here are symptoms to look for from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice.
And the treatment? There really isn't any, though some who become dehydrated from nausea or vomiting may require hospitalization. Read more from the CDC about hepatitis A. And the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition explains the different forms of hepatitis here.
Now, don't let any of this be an excuse to skip church.