-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Learning to play a musical
instrument has many well-known advantages, but sharing wind
instruments can spread disease-causing bacteria and other germs,
Germs linger for up to several days on a number of commonly
shared musical instruments, including the clarinet, flute and
saxophone, according to a report from Tufts University School of
The study, released online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of the
International Journal of Environmental Health Research, analyzed samples collected from 20 clarinets, flutes and saxophones, and found living bacteria as well as mold or yeast on every instrument.
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
Among the other organisms the researchers found growing on and
inside instruments were mold and other fungi. The worst offenders
-- wooden reeds and mouthpieces -- harbored the greatest quantities
Based on the findings, the researchers cautioned that musical
instruments should be properly cleaned after use.
"Thousands of children share musical instruments in elementary and high school each year but there is no established standard for cleaning those instruments. We found that disease-causing germs survive on commonly shared instruments for one to two days," Dr. Stuart Levy, a professor of molecular biology and microbiology and director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
The study's authors offered the following tips on how to prevent
or minimize the transfer and growth of germs on musical
"Although hygienic practices increasingly are being encouraged, in part by the swine flu epidemic and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) outbreaks, our results suggest
that cleaning shared wind instruments should also be encouraged,
especially in schools," Levy concluded.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
detailed information on how to
stop the spread of germs.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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