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16 May 2011

Musical instruments breeding ground for bacteria

Learning to play a musical instrument has many well-known advantages, but sharing wind instruments can spread disease-causing bacteria and other germs, researchers warn.

Learning to play a musical instrument has many well-known advantages, but sharing wind instruments can spread disease-causing bacteria and other germs, researchers warn.

The method the researchers employed to test the instruments involved using a pump, an aerosol generator and simulated playing. They found that after applying E. coli, Staphylococcus and a deactivated strain of tuberculosis bacteria to a clarinet, cultures showed that the bacteria survived for up to a few days on the instrument. The deactivated strain of tuberculosis bacteria, in particular, survived for nearly two weeks.

  • Don't share. Whenever possible, instrumentalists should have their own instruments, mouthpieces and reeds.
  • Clean after every use. If an instrument is shared or obtained from a commercial source, it should be disassembled and then cleaned using alcohol wipes, soap and water, or a commercial disinfectant.
  • Microwave. Cleaning cloths, such as swab pull-throughs and other drying cloths, can be microwaved after use to kill germs before storing them away in instrument cases.

 
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