If you’re a stout believer, going to church is supposed to cast sickness and ailments out of the body. For a handful of North Dakota Catholic churches, a round of communion has reportedly infected them with hepatitis A.
John Folda, a newly ordained bishop in the largest ND city of Fargo apparently obtained the disease during a trip to Rome and infected members of five surrounding churches upon his return.
The state Health Department on Thursday issued an advisory of exposure for anyone who attended any of the five affected churches and took communion from Bishop John Folda, 52. State immunization program manager Molly Howell said that the risk is low but that officials “felt it was important for people to know about the possible exposure.”
State health officials say they are not sure exactly how many churchgoers might have been exposed. A church official from one affected church said about 25 people there received communion from Folda.
Diocese spokeswoman Aliceyn Magelky told The Associated Press that Folda contracted the liver disease from contaminated food while attending a conference last month in Italy for newly ordained bishops. Folda has taken time off work since Oct. 10 due to the virus, she said.
“He’s doing great,” Magelky said of Folda. “He’s moving back into his regular schedule.”
Folda issued a statement Friday apologizing to parishioners.
“I sincerely apologize to the people who may have been exposed to the virus,” his statement said. “I wish I had known I was ill so I could immediately refrain from participating in public activities. Unfortunately, I had no symptoms immediately following my return and during the events that have been brought to the public’s attention.”
Despite its notorious handle, hepatitis A is not exclusive to sexually transmission. It’s spread from person-to-person by methods such as…sharing food and drink. It affects the liver and could ultimately lead to failure of the internal organs if not treated properly.
Luckily for everyone involved, it wasn’t a serious as it sounded.
Photo: Diocese of Fargo