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Bishop may have exposed parishioners to hepatitis

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By Reuters
Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 6:24 p.m.

Catholics in North Dakota have been warned to watch for symptoms of hepatitis A because a bishop unknowingly had the disease and served Communion, state officials said.

Bishop John Folda of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo contracted hepatitis from contaminated food while in Italy last month for a conference of newly ordained bishops, said Aliceyn Magelky, spokeswoman for the diocese.

Folda served communion during Mass at three churches in Fargo and one church in Jamestown between Sept. 27 and Oct. 7, according to a statement on Thursday from the North Dakota Department of Health.

The Mass in Jamestown was at a convention of priests.

“He feels terrible about it,” Magelky said. “He did not know when coming back that he had contracted the virus or he would have refrained from participating in Mass much sooner.”

Magelky said Folda is feeling better and has not been infectious since Oct. 16.

Hepatitis A, which can cause infection of the liver, is most often spread when people fail to wash their hands thoroughly and then touch other people.

The department encouraged people who received communion from Folda to check with their doctors if they notice symptoms such as fever, tiredness, loss of appetite or jaundice.

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