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Not Cleaning Your Wind or Brass Instruments Could Kill You

The death of a bagpipe player is a serious warning for all woodwind and brass musicians.

A report published Monday in the medical journal Thorax focuses on an unnamed 61-year-old British bagpipe player died in 2014 from “bagpipe lung” or hypersensitivity pneumonitis — a reaction to yeast and fungi growing in his instrument’s tubes. The Liverpool resident suffered this condition, which included dry cough and shortness of breath, for seven years. Various types of mold and yeast were found growing in his instrument and the fungi lead to inflammation in his lung, creating irreversible scarring that prevented him from breathing properly. His 2014 autopsy showed that his death is likely caused by extensive lung damage. Andrew Bova of the National Piping Centre in Glasgow told BBC that when it comes to cleaning a woodwind instrument, they should give it a swab after every time they play. It also does not only pertain to bagpipers; this potentially fatal lung illness has also been linked to saxophonists and trombonists. Check out the full study here.

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