Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 07 January 2011 00:00
The holiest day in the Christian calendar turned out to be a potentially unhealthy one for parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Earlier this week, Nassau County Department of Health officials confirmed that parishioners at that Massapequa Park church who received Holy Communion during both the 10:30 a.m. and noon Christmas Day masses were exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
Health officials would only say that the carrier was someone involved in the communion process at both services.
Health officials also added that the A virus is only a minor form of the infection, one that causes flu like sicknesses. According to published reports, an official with the department of health believes that only a few parishioners might have been infected.
Still, county health officials are taking no chances. They issued their own statement, one designed to educate the public on the virus.
“The symptoms of Hepatitis A may range from mild to severe and include an abrupt onset of fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes),” the statement read. “The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications. The symptoms commonly appear within 28 days of exposure, with a range of 15-50 days. There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once symptoms appear. Generally bed rest is all that is needed. Thorough hand washing after bathroom use and before, during and after food preparation is the most important means to prevent the spread of this and other intestinal illnesses. Sharing of food and utensils should be discouraged especially whenever anyone is ill.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the department of health made both immune globulin injections and the hepatitis A vaccine available to those parishioners who attended the Christmas Day masses. Massapequa residents who missed those two dates can call 227-9496 for more information on receiving a vaccine.
The Department of Health’s website, www.nasssaucountyny. gov/agencies /health/index.html has more information on the virus.
On Christmas Day, Our Lady of Lourdes usually is filled to capacity. On such holidays, eucharistic ministers assists parish priests in the communion sacrament. Diocese of Rockville Centre officials said that Our Lady of Lourdes has 30 such ministers authorized for such functions as communion and other duties.