Healthcare News & Insights

Christmas mass is ground zero for hep A outbreak

A local health department is warning one church’s parishioners that their communion wafers may have been come with exposure to hepatitis A.

An unnamed congregation member of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park, New York, has tested positive for hepatitis A. The member assisted with the Communion ceremony in which priests, deacons and some other congregants distribute communion wafers and wine.

The Nassau County health officials said it will be offering immune globin injections to kill the virus and vaccinations to prevent it, to those who fear they may have been exposed.

The good news is that health officials said the risk of transmission is relatively low. Plus, hepatitis A is not as dangerous as other forms of the disease. Most commonly, it causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea and diarrhea. It does not lead to chronic liver disease unlike hepatitis B and C.

Hepatitis A is typically transmitted through food that was handled by an infected person who hasn’t washed his or her hands properly, or if an infected person’s stool comes in contact with food.

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