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WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 24, 2013, 03:06 PM

North Dakota Health Department warns about hepatitis A exposure in area Catholic churches

FARGO – Those who took part in Communion in three Catholic churches here within the last month are being warned by state health officials that they may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

By: Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service

FARGO – Those who took part in Communion in three Catholic churches here within the last month are being warned by state health officials that they may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

The North Dakota department of Health advises anyone who attended church and took part in Communion on the following dates at the following churches:

– Holy Spirit Church, Fargo, on Sept. 27.

– Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo, on Oct. 6.

– St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center, Fargo, on Oct. 7.

– St. James Basilica, Jamestown, from Sept. 29 until Oct. 2.

Exposed individuals are encouraged to consult their health care provider only if they develop symptoms of hepatitis A, which causes an infection of the liver.

Symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stools and jaundice, according to a state Health Department news release.

“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,” Molly Howell, immunization program manager, said in the release.

It is not recommended that people be tested if they were exposed but do not have symptoms, Howell said.

It can take about 15 to 50 days after being exposed to hepatitis A for symptoms to develop, and the virus generally lasts for about two months, the release stated. Those with symptoms should exclude themselves from activities for one week.

The virus is spread when people do not wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom or changing a diaper, then in some way touch others with contaminated hands, the release stated.

A vaccine is available and routinely recommended for children ages 12 to 23. A vaccine is also required for child care entry in North Dakota, the release said.

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