By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
Health concerns over the recent meningococcal disease cases along the U.S. Route 62 Salem-to-Louisville corridor are affecting the Roman Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion.
Bishop Thomas Tobin announced Thursday that some parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown may temporarily withhold use of the common cup for Communion. The diocese includes the area where the cases have occurred.
The affected parishes are St. Ann in Sebring, St. Paul in Salem, St. Peter in Rootstown Township, St. Joseph and Regina Coeli in Alliance, St. Louis in Louisville, Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Nimishillen Township and St. Joseph in Maximo.
The directive is only temporary because of the health concerns, the diocese said in a statement.
Keeping posted: The diocese said that since 1985, the U.S. Bishops' Conference regularly requests from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta the latest advisories concerning possible health risks associated with drinking from a common Communion cup.
Although not ruling out some risks, the CDC has stated that, with proper precautions -- such as wiping both sides of the rim of the chalice after each person has sipped from it -- such risks are greatly reduced, the diocese said.
The CDC has also responded that there is no clinical evidence that life-threatening pathogens have been transmitted through the practice of a common cup, and it has not recommended discontinuing the practice, the diocese said.
Spread: The Northeastern Ohio Meningitis Response Team is stressing that meningococcal disease is spread only through intimate contact.
The Ohio Department of Health adds that you can't become infected from casual contact, such as standing in line with, being in the same room as or working with someone.
The response team describes close personal contact as activities in which saliva and mucus can be exchanged, such as kissing, or sharing food, utensils, glasses or anything put in the mouth.
At YSU: Students at Youngstown State University may obtain the Menomune vaccine in the student health clinic on the first floor of Kilcawley House on Wednesdays in June and Thursdays in July and August.
The vaccine is given by appointment from 8:45 a.m. to noon, and the fee is $75, according to Susan R. Ferrier, the clinic's nurse supervisor.
It is the same vaccine being given today to high school students in the Alliance and Salem areas.
The vaccine, which she said she strongly recommends for dormitory students, has been offered at YSU on a regular basis for the past several years.
Ferrier said the YSU clinic has been receiving about 20 telephone calls a day over the past two weeks from concerned parents, many of whom have opted to have their children treated by their local health departments.
The YSU clinic gave five doses of the vaccine Wednesday and has five people scheduled to receive it next Wednesday, she said, adding that she thinks the clinic has about 20 doses in stock.
Pool: The Salem city parks department is delaying until Monday the opening of Centennial Park pool.
Normally, the pool would have opened Thursday, weather permitting, parks director Steve Faber explained.
The response team stated Wednesday that exposure to sweat or tears, workplace contacts, attendance at public events, swimming in public pools, riding the bus, drinking from public water fountains and going to restaurants are considered low-risk, casual contacts.
About 5 percent to 10 percent of the population at any given time carries meningococcal bacteria; therefore, there is no one source of the organism, the response team said.