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Officials Warn Musicians About Deadly Fungus In Bagpipes, Other Wind Instruments

Aug 30, 2016 04:39 AM EDT
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Musicians, particularly wind instrument players, should clean up their instruments thoroughly after a bagpipe player suffered from "bagpipe lung" last week and died due to the fungus found inside the victim's instrument.

According to Science News, a 61-year-old man died due to a previously unknown illness that left him breathless and suffering a dry cough for seven long years. Five years earlier, the victim was already diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, but doctors could not point the cause of his illness until now.

In an article posted in The National , the victim was admitted to a hospital in 2014 because of his worsening health. Apart from difficulty breathing, the victim couldn't walk for more than 25 meters.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis and is also called bird's fancier lung, humidifier lung or hot tub lung, according to Science News. It usually irritates lung tissues due to inhaling particles.

This rare disease is commonly contracted by exposures with birds. He was not a smoker either, nor is his home with water damage or household moulds. Interestingly, in 2011, the victim's condition went well during his three-week break in Australia where he stopped playing bagpipes for a short period.

It turns out that there is fungus found growing in the bagpipe, which could possibly be inhaled by the victim. Test results reveal that the victim's bagpipe had six different and potentially harmful bacteria. 

Unfortunately, the victim still died despite the treatment. His post mortem reveals "extensive lung damage consistent with acute respiratory distress syndrome, where the lungs cannot provide enough oxygen to the rest of the body, and scarring," The National reports.

Dr. Jenny King of the University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation led a report that states that to avoid hypersensitivity pneumonitis, it is recommended to clean any wind instruments thoroughly after using it and dry it up. There is a possibility that the wind instruments will be infected by yeasts and moulds that will increase harmful risks for the players, according to The National reports.

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