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Church looks to head off Hep A

Nassau County health officials will continue to offer free vaccines today at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park after it was revealed that some 1,300 parishioners could have been exposed to Hepatitis A during two Christmas Masses.

Nassau County health officials will continue to offer free vaccines today at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park after it was revealed that some 1,300 parishioners could have been exposed to Hepatitis A during two Christmas Masses.

“Whoever received Holy Communion may have been exposed,” said Mary Ellen Laurain, director of communications for the Nassau County Health Department. She also stressed that “the threat of disease is low.”

According to the county information sheet, “Hepatitis A virus may be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person.” Rarely fatal, the disease may cause an “abrupt onset of fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice.” The vaccine is effective within two weeks of transmission; symptoms of Hep A typically show up two weeks after infection.

Sean Dolan, spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, expected them to be “concerned, but understanding.” He said the vaccines were a precautionary measure.

While the health department does not regulate the administering of communion, Doyle said the diocese does issue guidelines.

 
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