A case of Hypersensitivity Pneumonia (attributed to his bagpipe playing and diagnosed on autopsy) was the cause of death of a 61 year old man late in 2017.
After 10 years of unexplained and worsening coughing and breathlessness he was left unable to walk more than 20m and suffered the same symptoms as a person with asbestosis but with no clinical changes.
A 3 month holiday to Australia changed his life temporarily and he managed to walk 10km one day. However upon his return , and after several sessions with his beloved bagpipes, he succumbed again and even a strong course of immunosuppressants could not stop his fast demise.
Autopsy revealed fungal spores in his lungs and his bagpipes and interviews with the family
revealed that they could not recall the bagpipes ever being cleaned.
The Coroner has issued a caution to ALL wind instrument players to regularly clean their instruments to reduce the bacterial and viral loading. For Brass instrument players this usually means soaking overnight in a bath of warm water and antibacterial solution such as dettol or tea tree oil. ( I myself do this twice a year anyway with my saxophone, as this is what I was taught)
Clarinets and oboe’s can be soaked for a short time so as not to affect the wood,Bagpipes are a little more complicated and really should be cleaned after every session, but here is a 4 minute step by step video for you if you have never seen it done. www.https://youtu.be/Rfj6DqHXSCk
If you have any unexplained and prolonged breathing issues and play a wind instrument please see your GP and ask about the possibility of hypersensitivity pneumonia.
Look after yourself and happy playing …
Until next time.