January 24, 2019

Catholic Church Members Exposed to Hepatitis A in North Dakota

The North Dakota Department of Health is warning parishioners of several churches that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A. The Fargo Catholic Diocese’s new bishop, John Folda, contracted hepatitis A while attending a conference for newly ordained bishops in Italy last month.

Hepatitis A Downriver Coney IslandPeople who attended some churches on certain dates may have been exposed to the virus. Those churches and dates are: Holy Spirit Church in Fargo, ND (school mass) on September 27, 2013; St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, ND (10:30 am mass) on September 29, 2013; St. James Basilica in Jamestown, ND (priest convention) on September 29 – October 2, 2013; Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, ND (noon mass only) on October 6, 2013; and St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center in Fargo, ND on October 7, 2013.

Unfortunately, since all of these possible exposures occurred more than 14 days ago, a vaccination against the virus will not help. Anyone who may have been exposed who has not been previously vaccinated for hepatitis A should monitor themselves for symptoms of hepatitis A, and consult a health care provider if symptoms do appear.

Symptoms take 15 to 50 days to appear (average incubation time is about one month), and include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stools, diarrhea, and jaundice which is yellowing of the eyes and skin. The symptoms usually last about two months. Most people are not contagious about a week after symptoms begin, but are contagious two weeks before symptoms begin. That’s how they can unknowingly pass the pathogenic virus on to others.

Molly Howell, Immunization Program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health said in a statement, “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.” A vaccine is available, and recommended for all children.


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