DALLAS (CBS11) – It’s turning out to be a deadly flu season in North Texas.

Dallas County Health and Human Services confirmed seven more flu-related deaths, bringing the total in the county to 18 this season.

Local churches are trying to help stop the spread. There are 1.2 million Catholics in the Dallas Diocese. Every priest got an advisory on how to keep people safe this flu season.

The Catholic Diocese in Dallas is taking extra steps to make sure people who attend mass stay healthy. There are 77 churches in the diocese.

Many people have heard mass announcements asking them to not shake hands during the sign of peace. Some people have decided to not drink from the communion cup.

Dr. Patricia Hughes is the director for the Office of Worship. She said, ultimately, it’s each person’s decision on what to do.

“During the flu season, probably the most courteous and simplest thing to do is to make eye contact or do a simple head bow like this would be a universal sign of courtesy and hospitality,” said Dr. Hughes.

Dr. Hughes also said if you feel sick, it’s okay to make the decision to stay home and not go to church.

A gym in Lower Greenville in Dallas is also taking precautions during flu season.

Brian Casad, owner of Paradigm Gym, said it’s been slow because of the new year and because of the flu season.

Disinfecting wipes are never out of reach at the gym, especially during this time of the year.

Losing weight and working out more are New Year’s resolutions for many, but they could also be opening themselves up to possible infection, especially at places like gyms where many people share workout equipment.

Casad suggests staying home if you aren’t feeling well.

“A gym environment is very invasive when it comes to germs. That’s why gyms take the precautionary measures to have all the disinfecting wipes to wipe everything,” said Casad.

The rise in flu cases in North Texas has affected local walk-in clinics.

A doctor at one of these clinics said flu patients come in because they want a shorter wait time. She said this flu season has been exceptionally busy.

Dr. Jenniffier Mahand said about 50 patients come in to American Family Care clinic in Southlake with flu-like symptoms. Between five and 15 actually get diagnosed with the flu.

Patients are treated for body aches, chills, fever and coughs. Dr. Mahand said doctors try to diagnose and treat patients as early as possible.

“The medications we have it most effective in the illness. So as soon as you feel symptoms, it’s good to come on in, get diagnosed, treated. The sooner you come in, the sooner you feel better,” said Dr. Mahand.