Catholic Church institutes Mass changes to prevent spread of flu

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The Catholic Church is taking precautions at Mass following the flu outbreak in New York State.  Thursday morning Bishop Richard Malone released a list of changes that will take place to help prevent the spread of the flu.

The church is currently suspending the distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass, and any ministers who distribute Holy Communion are reminded to wash their hands.  They're also advised not to touch the hands or tongue of the people they're distributing the hosts to.

The Bishop also says the Sign of Peace should be offered without any physical contact.  Instead of a handshake, Catholics are being asked to bow or gesture to the people near them.

Additionally, Holy water fonts at churches are to be drained, disinfected, and re-filled with holy water on a regular basis.  The sponges should also be removed.  

Bishop Malone went on to remind Catholics who aren't feeling well that they do not have to attend Sunday Mass, and should remain at home and return to church only when they are well.

This year's influenza virus is the most widespread outbreak since public health authorities began keeping track about a dozen years ago.  The New York State Department of Health reported cases of the flu rose by 54% last week.

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