Oh My Gosh! A Second American Bishop Has Contracted Hepatitis A!

Oh My Gosh! A Second American Bishop Has Contracted Hepatitis A! October 25, 2013

Earlier today, I reported that Fargo’s new bishop, Bishop  John T. Folda, had contracted Hepatitis A while attending the recent Bishops’ School in Rome, and had unknowingly exposed worshippers at four churches to the virus.

It turns out that Bishop Folda isn’t the only new bishop to contract the virus.  A statement released this evening from the Diocese of Tyler reports that their ordinary, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, has also been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.  Bishop Strickland, who was ordained in November 2012, also attended the Bishops’ School program in Rome on September 10-19.

At this point, no other bishops have announced any health effects from the recent trip.  I’ve placed a call to the office of Bishop Michael Barber in the Diocese of Oakland, another new bishop.  At this point, I don’t know whether he attended the same orientation program, and there’s been no announcement regarding any health problem; so we can pray that he is well.  Pray, too, that no other bishops, in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, have been taken ill.

Below is the full text of the letter from the Diocese of Tyler, as posted by KETK-TV.

TYLER, TEXAS (KETK) — Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, ordained bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, November 28, 2012, has been diagnosed as suffering from Hepatitis A.

Bishop Strickland attended “Bishops’ School” for newly ordained bishops in Rome in September 2013, and contracted the disease at that time. At least one other bishop in attendance had also been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

On his return from Diocese of Tyler in late September 2013, Bishop Strickland continued his pastoral duties throughout the Diocese, unaware of his exposure. When he began to experience flu-like symptoms in mid-October, he took himself off duty and sought medical care. Vicar General Bishop Edmond Carmody, has filled in for Strickland during the absence.

Bishop Strickland is feeling much better now and is responding to medical treatment.The diocese asks the community to keep Bishop Strickland in their prayers.

Dusty Gonzalez with the Northeast Texas Public Health District offered the following information:

  • The virus can cause serious liver problems, usually transmitted through exposure with an infected person, or through contaminated food or drinks.
  • Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, pale stools, jaundice.
  • Symptoms can take 15 to 50 days to appear.
  • People who develop symptoms are urged to consult a doctor.
  • It is not recommended that people without symptoms get tested.
  • Frequent hand-washing is essential to prevent spreading of the disease


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  • moseynon

    According to the CDC, the average incubation period for Hepatitis A is 28 days. This means that Hep A, on average, become obvious about a month after exposure. However, the incubation period can take as long as 50 days and an infected person may be contagious during the incubation period.

    Since the New Bishops Conference ran from Sep 10-19, the emergence of symptoms is on schedule. That a second US bishop contracted the disease suggests that the other bishops at the conference are also at risk. Some of those bishops come from English speaking countries such as Canada. Ireland and England, so I am sure we would hear about any such cases. Similarly with the bishop(s) from Western countries such as Germany, especially as news of an outbreak spreads. I am not sure if we will hear of any cases of infection among bishops from the Middle East or South America, although I suspect that we will now hear of the news, if any cases develop.

    • eskvar

      The other reason we might not hear of cases in bishops from the Middle East, South America, or Africa developing Hepatitis is because those regions have a high prevalence of the disease. In some developing regions, it’s common for people to become infected with Hep A as children and then develop life long immunity. Hopefully whoever was in charge of the “Bishop School” will be able to determine the source of the infection and take steps to ensure that no one becomes ill in the future.

  • D.A. Howard

    Of course, becoming a poor church would mean we do not have money to prevent such outbreaks…

  • jenny

    How can we be sure that the medical tests reflect the real info?
    Too much is going on against the church …

    • Howard

      The bishops are educated men, they only sought medical attention after the onset of symptoms, and frankly, they lead small dioceses with little political influence. Something was clearly wrong with them, and it makes no sense to think they were poisoned, if that’s what you were suggesting.

  • RB2

    one of the better reasons against communion on the tongue

    • Kelly Thatcher

      Nope. More germs—FAR more germs—are transferred via hands than mouth. Hospital employees and visitors are, in the case of employees, mandated, in the case of visitors, often mandated and ALWAYS encouraged, to use Cal-Stat or other readily available HAND sterilizers. Nobody is asked to cleanse their tongue or lips or mouth, even though the most susceptible of patients are usually kissed. RB2? NOT a good reason.

      • RB2

        so your saying if someone with T.B. or influenza coughs/breathes out on the priests hands, then reaches for the eucharist and contaminates it or he accidently touches my tongue with his contaminated hand. I’m far safer?

        Some would say they are already exposed to the risk of hand shaking through the ambient risk of the population through door knobs, counter tops and other surfaces. So now your telling me I can ignore coughs, accidental toungue touches and those with T.B., influenza and whatnot exhaling/coughing(rare) on the priests hands?

        And since no hospital passes a pint bottle of Listerine around to sanitize the mouths of doctors, nurses and other workers. Thats proof that we are all safe or perhaps delusional with fear?

        You also stated: “More germs—FAR more germs—are transferred via hands than mouth.”

        We are not concerned with how many germs per se, we are interested in their longevity outside a human host. Many things will die quickly, but some germs/virus’s passed through mouth-saliva droplets and breath can be quickly transferred via the hands/eucharist to another mouth. Are we not cautioned to not touch our hands/face/mouth/tear ducts/eyes.

        Is not T.B. a risk?

        Should I be kissing and sharing spit with T.B. patients or those with similar transmission vectors.

        Thanks for being a source of well, what can I say, you take 2 facts that “hospitals require workers to wash”, but they “dont sanitize their mouths”. And extrapolate wildly beyond that truism. Yes indeed your are a wealth of misinformation.

        Consider this: Ah yes, but medical workers wear masks! @ Boing!

        • Kelly Thatcher

          They *often* wear masks, but now always. In treatment? They ALWAYS wear gloves. Nice try. No dice. Receive Communion on the hand if you want to, no problem, but don’t try to con anybody into believing that receiving on the tongue is so much more dangerous. Thanks for the reply, but you seem to be rather ignorant of hospital procedures…to say nothing of health issues. Betcha you’re a doctor! 🙂

          • RB2

            No I’m a vet.
            U.S. Army.

            I guard my health against airborne and contact surface problems.

          • Howard

            Another option, in case you’re worried: don’t receive Communion. You don’t have to receive at every Mass.

  • Linus

    Of course the Bishops had no choice, but that is the reason I never eat out unless I absolutely have too. You just cannot trust food preparers and handlers to be clean.

    • Pat

      I wonder if both of them took the Hepatitis Vaccine before travelling to Rome. If so, then I would suspect the vaccine causing them to contract the illness, which happens in the case of many vaccines. In any case, I pray Bishop Strickland recovers quickly along with Bishop Folda.

      • moseynon

        Chances are good that neither bishop received the Hep A vaccine. The CDC recommends the vaccine for travelers to certain parts of the world, but Italy is not one of those countries.

        Even if they had received the vaccine, it is unlikely to have caused the disease. The Hep A vaccine is made from killed virus, which means that patients receive only particles of the Hep A virus, which are non-infectious. If someone were to come down with Hep A at a later date, the reason would likely be that the vaccine didn’t provoke an immune response strong enough to provide adequate protection.

  • billy gee

    It’s God’s way of punishing them.

  • elmccl

    Bishop Kevin Britt of Grand Rapids, MI died within two weeks after being in Rome for a bishop’s meeting in 2004. He was a very young man. He was our bishop 10 months. I believe it was encephalitis that took his life.