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Christmas Mass Puts Catholics At Risk of Hepatitis A

Photo Courtesy - WABC-TV New York(NEW YORK) -- Catholics who receive communion at Sunday mass believe the sacred wafer they swallow contains the body of Christ. New York health officials have warned the parishioners of a Long Island church that the wafers they received on Christmas Day may have also contained hepatitis A.

The Nassau County Department of Health in New York is warning parishioners who attended Christmas Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park to seek treatment, worried that the hundreds who took communion could fall ill. Those who attended the 10:30 a.m. and noon Masses are most likely to be at risk, according to the health department.

While no individuals who attended the services have reported illness, MaryEllen Laurain, a spokesperson for the county's department of health, said vaccines will be offered as a "preventative measure."

Hepatitis A, a liver disease, is contracted by putting something in your mouth that has been contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person. It is frequently spread when an infected person fails to wash his or his hands after using the toilet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consuming food that has been handled by an infected individual is one of the most common ways of contracting the disease.

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