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N.D. bishop exposes flock to hepatitis

BISMARCK, N.D. — The bishop of the Fargo Catholic Diocese exposed some parishioners at North Dakota churches in Fargo, Grand Forks, and Jamestown to the hepatitis A virus in late September and early October.

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.

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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.

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