If a client presents with cold- or flu-like symptoms, the massage therapist may reschedule the session. But should therapists take any additional precautions in light of the growing swine flu pandemic?

As of May 5, 21 countries had reported 1,124 cases of the influenza A infection, dubbed swine flu. Mexico, where the flu originated, reported 590 cases, including 25 deaths. The United States reported 286 cases, including one death.

The World Health Organization issued this advice: “Individuals are advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness.”

On May 4 the American Lung Association advised, “Good hygiene is the best and first line of defense against any type of cold or flu,” said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., American Lung Association chief medical officer. “This includes frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.”

This type of hygiene is not new to massage therapists, who should also continue to disinfect counters and surfaces, including massage tables, between clients.