Shared Cup at Mass Is Barred Due to Outbreak

ALLIANCE, Ohio, JUNE 8, 2001 ( A meningitis crisis prompted a bishop to ban the sharing of the Communion cup at this weekend´s Masses, an Akron newspaper reported.

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Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Youngstown on Thursday ordered thousands of Catholics in the Alliance area not to receive the Precious Blood from a shared cup, the Beacon Journal reported.

The diocese announced that the measure addresses meningitis concerns and «should be interpreted only as a temporary directive,´´ the paper said.

Nancy Yuhasz, the diocese´s chancellor, said the bishop made the decision without consulting doctors. The order affects eight parishes in Columbiana, Portage, Stark and Mahoning counties.

Two area teen-agers died in May from meningitis-related infections. The bacteria Neisseria meningitidis caused a blood infection that killed Jonathan Stauffer, 15, and Kelly Coblentz, 16, within days of each other. They were friends who attended the same high school in Alliance.

The bacteria cause meningitis, a disease of the brain, and meningococcemia, a blood infection. The germ is spread by saliva by such means as sharing eating utensils.

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