( 4UMF NEWS ) Man’s Death Linked To Mold In Bagpipe:
Listening to the bagpipes has been compared to torture.
But who knew that playing them could kill you?
British doctors are blaming the death of a 61-year-old Liverpool man on his bagpipes, whose moist, dark interior apparently provided an ideal breeding ground for fungus. Authors of the case report are calling the man’s condition “bagpipe lung.”
The man’s demise appears to be the first documented case of death by bagpipe, experts say.
“It sounds like a Monty Python skit or an Agatha Christie story gone wrong,” said William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
The technical name for the man’s lung disease is hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which occurs when the immune system tries to fight off a foreign invader, such as mold or yeast. The ensuing inflammation ends up scarring the lung, making it harder for patients to breathe, said study coauthor Jenny King, a pulmonology resident at University Hospital in South Manchester.
The bagpiper suffered for seven years with symptoms of dry cough, shortness of breath and weakness. The illness left him able to walk no more than about 65 feet, according to the study, although he had previously been able to walk more than six miles, according to the report, published Monday in Thorax.
A variety of things can trigger lung inflammation, including the dust shed by pigeon feathers, a condition known as “pigeon fancier’s lung,” said Jesse Jacob, an associate professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at Atlanta’s Emory University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new study.
The bagpiper, whom authors did not identify, had no contact with pigeons.
So King had look elsewhere for the culprit. She began to suspect the bagpipes after the man told doctors that his symptoms cleared up when he went on vacation without them.
King and her colleagues tested the man’s bagpipes and found a wide array of mold and yeast. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the patient.
“If that had been identified earlier, and he had stopped playing the bagpipes or cleaned them regularly, he may well have just gotten better,” King said.
Three years ago, an English bagpiper named John Shone came close to death from lung disease linked to his bagpipe. Researchers also have reported respiratory problems in trombone and saxophone players who failed to properly disinfect their instruments.
Ian Clabburn, chairman of The Bagpipe Society in Daventry, England, has heard reports over the years about infections related to bagpipes. But he said he has no plans to give up his beloved instrument: “There’s more risk crossing the road, I reckon.”
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