Influenza viruses are spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and spreads virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs of a person, they begin to multiply, causing symptoms of the flu. The viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it (for example, a door handle) and then touches his or her nose or mouth. A person who is sick with the flu can spread viruses. Adults may be contagious from one day before developing symptoms to up to seven days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for longer than seven days.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated with the yearly seasonal flu vaccine. All parishioners and most especially all ministers of Holy Communion should be encouraged to get vaccinated annually.
As with other infectious illnesses, another important and appropriate preventive practice is careful and frequent hand hygiene. Cleaning your hands often using either soap and water or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizers removes potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission.
Other ways to prevent the spread of germs and viruses:
Promote clean hands.
Ministers of Holy Communion should be reminded to thoroughly wipe both the inner and outer surfaces of the chalice where the communicant’s lips have come into contact with it when receiving the Precious Blood.
Misters should also turn the chalice slightly between communicants and try to use different portions of the purificator during the wiping process.
Encourage people who think they may be beginning to feel ill to refrain from receiving the Precious Blood. We receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in its totality under either species, together or alone. Receiving both species is a more complete sign, but not a more complete reality.
Encourage people who are sick to stay home. Though it is true that it is a grave matter to be absent from Mass on Sundays and holydays, this never applies to those who are ill, especially those who are contagious or display flu-like symptoms.
It is important that the temporary nature of the liturgical modifications listed above be stressed, and that due diligence be afforded to returning to ordinary practices as soon as any true threat has passed.
Canonically, the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue is always a legitimate option for those who desire it.
During times of concern, Pastors, Parish Life Coordinators and Parish Directors should maintain occasional contact with officers from their county health department regarding rates of infection in their area, and take this information into account when making decisions which affect the celebration of the liturgy.
All of the health officers listed below have been contacted by the Office of Worship and were asked to try to assist you in this way.
NOTE: This list is updated in mid-January each year.
Ashland County Health and Human Services Department
630 Sanborn Avenue
Ashland, WI 54806
715/ 682-7924 (Fax)
715/ 682-7004 Ms Cyndi Zach
Barron County Health and Human Services Department
335 E Monroe Avenue, Rm 338
Barron, WI 54812
715/ 537-6274 (Fax)
715/ 537-5691 Ms Laura Sauve (*HO)
Bayfield County Health Department
117 East 6th Street
PO Box 403
Washburn, WI 54891
715/ 373-6307 (Fax)
715/ 373-6109 Ms. Sara Wartman (*HO)
Burnett County Department of Health & Human Services
7410 County Road K #280
Siren, WI 54872-9043
715/ 349-2140 (Fax)
715/ 349-7600 x 1234 Ms Jodi Reed
Douglas County, Department of Health & Human Services
1316 North 14th Street, Suite 324
Superior, WI 54880
715/ 395-1434 (Fax)
715/ 395-1304 Ms Kathy Ronchi
Iron County Health Department
502 Copper Street
Hurley, WI 54534
715/ 561-2836 (Fax)
715/ 561-2191 Ms Katie Hampston (*HO)
Lincoln County Health Department
607 North Sales Street
Merrill, WI 54452-1637
715/ 536-2011 (Fax)
715/ 536-0307 Ms Shelley Hersil
Oneida County Health Department
100 W Keenan Street
Rhinelander, WI 54501
715/ 369-6112 (Fax)
715/ 369-6111 Ms Linda Conlon
Polk County Health Department
100 Polk County Plaza, Suite 180
Balsam Lake, WI 54810
715/ 485-8501 (Fax)
715/ 485-8500 Ms Wendy Bauman (*HO)
Price County Department of Health & Social Services
104 South Eyder Avenue
Phillips, WI 54555
715/ 339-3057 (Fax)
715/ 339-3054 Ms Michelle Edwards
Rusk County Department of Health & Human Services
311 Miner Avenue East Suite C220
Ladysmith, WI 54848
715/ 532-2217 (Fax)
715/ 532-2299 Ms Anita Zimmer
Saint Croix County Department Health & Human Services
1752 Dorset Lane
New Richmond, WI 54017-6004
715/ 246-8367 (Fax)
715/ 246-8263 Ms Deborah Lindemann
Sawyer County Department of Health & Human Services
10610 Main Street, Suite 224
Hayward, WI 54843-0730
715/ 634-5019 (Fax)
715/ 634-4806 Ext. 2438 Ms Eileen Simak
Taylor County Health Department
224 S Second St
Medford, WI 54451
715/ 748-1417 (Fax)
715/ 748-1410 Ms Patty Krug
Vilas County Health Department
302 W. Pine Street
Eagle River, WI 54521
715/ 479-3741 (Fax)
715/ 479-3656 Ms Gina Egan
Washburn County Health Department & Human Services
222 Oak Street
Spooner, WI 54801
715/ 635-4416 (Fax)
715/ 635-4400 Ms Jerri Pederson
Portions of this text have been taken from directives published by the USCCB’s Secretariat for Divine Worship in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).