It seems bagpipes may hold a hidden hazard for their players. The Telegraph reports:
Playing the bagpipes could be deadly, scientists have warned, after a man died from continually breathing in mould and fungus trapped in the instrument.
Doctors in Manchester have identified the condition "bagpipe lung" following the death of a 61-year-old man from chronic inflammatory lung condition hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
The condition is triggered by the immune system’s response to an inhaled environmental irritants and is often associated with exposure to feathers and bird droppings.
When the unnamed man was first diagnosed in 2009 doctors were puzzled by his condition because he was not a pigeon fancier, his house contained no mould or signs of water damage and he had never smoked.
However, he played the bagpipes daily, and when his condition improved when he left his pipes at home during a three-month visit to Australia doctors believed they had found the cause.
Samples were taken from several areas inside the bagpipes, including the bag, the neck, and the chanter reed protector and were found to contain six types of mould and fungi.
It is thought the that the moist conditions inside the bag allowed mould and fungi to grow, which was then inhaled by the man who experienced breathlessness and eventually could not walk more than 20 yards.
Despite treatment, the man died recently and a post mortem examination revealed extensive lung damage consistent with acute respiratory distress syndrome including lung tissue scarring.
. . .
There have been other reported cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, arising in trombone and saxophone players, say the doctors.
In 2013, bagpiper John Shone spent four weeks in hospital with pneumonia brought on by a fungus which colonised inside his instrument which he had neglected to clean for 18 months.
The doctors warn that any type of wind instrument could be contaminated with yeasts and moulds, making players susceptible to the risk of hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
There's more at the link.
Denis Norden, on the BBC program 'My Music', when asked what was his favorite sound in the world, famously (or notoriously) answered that it was "Bagpipes, receding into the distance." If this sort of fungal infestation becomes more widespread, that may become a sad reality . . .