Long Island congregation exposed to Hepatitis A during Christmas Day mass

Hundreds of churchgoers in Massapequa, New York may have been exposed to Hepatitis A during a mass at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Massapequa Park on Christmas Day.

Spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health Mary Ellen Laurain told a reporter that “a person involved in the communion process has tested positive for hepatitis A,” but did not disclose how the infection came to light, and was unable to identify the clergy member or eucharistic minister who may have transmitted the virus unwittingly to parishioners.

Laurain said that the risk was not high, but urged those exposed to take preventative measures:

“We feel the transmission [level] is low,” she added, saying only a few people were possibly exposed. “And to protect the public from potential illness, those who received Holy Communion on December 25 should receive prophylactic treatment.”

Vaccinations are being offered to people who attended Christmas Day masses at Our Lady of Lourdes in Massapequa Park. Hepatitis A is less serious than Hepatitis B and C, generally sickening those infected for a few weeks and causing low-grade, flu-like symptoms.

[MSNBC, Newsday, Image]