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Thread: Bagpipers lung

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    Bagpipers lung

    I've just heard on the radio of this sad Case up in Manchester, a warning to all who play the pipes!!
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2...ment/88996294/
    though I see the story got to the USA yesterday..
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
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    Just been reading it on the news here too, a salutary warning indeed.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37152871
    Trumpeters, saxophonists and pipers beware - playing a wind instrument could damage your lungs, UK doctors warn in the journal Thorax.
    They describe a rare but fatal case of what they are now calling "bagpipe lung" in a 61-year-old patient.
    The deceased man is thought to have developed a bad reaction to mould and fungi lurking inside the moist interior of his bagpipes.
    Doctors are urging other musicians to be extra hygienic.
    They say instruments should be cleaned regularly to prevent the build-up of yeast and other harmful pathogens.
    And any player who gets breathless and develops a cough should consider whether their symptoms might be caused by their music practice.
    There have been a couple of other documented reports of similar lung problems in saxophone and trombone players.
    Thankfully, in these cases the cause was identified early and the patients recovered.
    Irreversible scarring
    The lung damage the doctors describe happens when the body's immune system goes into overdrive.
    The inhaled pathogens trigger inflammation and left unchecked, this causes progressive and irreversible scarring.
    Doctors at the Wythenshawe Hospital said they had a hunch that the man's bagpipes might be the cause of his problems.
    The man was a keen piper, practising his music every day.
    He had been unwell for a number of years, with the exception of a few months when he travelled abroad and left his bagpipes at home.
    The doctors sent his bagpipes to the laboratory to check if their hunch was right.
    When the lab report came back it revealed that the instrument was riddled with damp-loving mould and fungi - the types that doctors know can cause lung problems.
    The damage that had already occurred to the man's lungs was irreversible. His condition deteriorated and he died some weeks later.
    Dr Jenny King, a member of the Wythenshawe team who had treated the man, said: "Sadly, in his case, the damage was fatal.
    "If you can diagnose these problems early and remove the trigger then they can be treated and the prognosis is really good.
    "These organisms are around in the air, but they're not usually at a high enough level to cause problems. You do sometimes see this type of lung problem in people who work on farms and are exposed to lots of mouldy hay."
    Andrew Bova works at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow and is an accomplished bagpiper.
    He advised: "Certainly, when it comes to cleaning a woodwind instrument I would say give it a swab after every time you play.
    "The moisture can sit in the nooks and crannies and you don't want that. Moisture can damage the wood so we swab to protect the instrument as much as anything."
    He uses brushes to clean his and says he gives the blowpipe a thorough rinse out with hot water every six months to get rid of any problems.
    "If you have a sheepskin bag, I was told that I should wash it out with hot water and bleach every year. That should get all the germs killed and prolong the life of your instrument.
    "Of course, most people today tend to play synthetic bags. I tell my players that they can unzip those to let the bag dry out."
    Kevin Lamb, chairman of the Windband Association, said all instruments were cleanable.
    Vice-President and Regional Director for Scotland for Clan Cunningham International, and a Scottish Armiger.

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    The researchers at Vanderbilt Univ. know their maladies when it comes to toxic death. Unrelated is the fact they have the Federal Bureau of Investigation's "cadaver farm" where decomposing bodies are studied to determine time of death.

    I now wonder how prolific was the piper's agenda that he didn't clean his bag often enough to prevent the mold? Could it be the environment in which his pipes were stored instead of usage?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    The researchers at Vanderbilt Univ. know their maladies when it comes to toxic death. Unrelated is the fact they have the Federal Bureau of Investigation's "cadaver farm" where decomposing bodies are studied to determine time of death.

    I now wonder how prolific was the piper's agenda that he didn't clean his bag often enough to prevent the mold? Could it be the environment in which his pipes were stored instead of usage?
    I had the same questions. I thought that the bag was supposed to be cleaned regularly, but I am not a piper. Hopefully one of our resident pipers will chime in!
    The kilt concealed a blaster strapped to his thigh. Lazarus Long

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    I have heard of this for many, many years. I remember when the piper for my reenactment group switched to IIRC a Gore-Tex bag, back when that material was brand new on the market, in the hopes that it would be a less hospitable place for the fungi and mold to live in. Its memorable to me as I had only a year or two after got my first GT parka issued to my by the Army. Was 1994 or 95.

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    I have a Gore-Tex with a moisture tube.

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    That story is rubbish IMHO.

    Every few years some journalist makes a splash with a non-story like that. Seems that the General Public likes hearing strange bagpipe stories.

    I've been playing over 40 years. I've been around pipers that whole time, dozens, hundreds of them, many have been playing longer than me.

    Pipers can have shoulder issues, rotator cuff issues. They can have repetitive motion issues.

    Lung problems from playing the pipes? Never heard of it.

    The story cites ONE case. Evidently the guy didn't know how to operate bagpipes, how to maintain them.

    Pipers who know what they're doing season the bag. The seasoning keeps anything from growing. (I'm talking the traditional sheepskin bag. I have both of my pipes on sheepskin bags.)

    Many pipers use Gore-Tex bags. I played one for a couple years. It stayed dry and clean inside, the same as a Gore-Tex jacket.

    Perhaps this poor fellow used improper seasoning. Perhaps he made the seasoning himself, and didn't use the right ingredients. Maybe he never seasoned the bag and it was rotting. The story doesn't say.

    Their "damp-loving mould" couldn't exist in a bag seasoned with proper seasoning, nor in a Gore-Tex bag. There's no "damp" in any set of pipes I've ever played; everything is bone-dry, or covered in a layer of seasoning. Evidently non-pipers imagine pipes being different than they are.

    (BTW this thread doesn't concern kilts, but rather musical instruments, and would be better placed in one of the Music forums.)
    Last edited by OC Richard; 23rd August 16 at 06:35 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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    I use a simple condensation tube (aka a 'tube trap') in my pipes. I periodically take it out and clean it, and it has gotten a little funky from time to time. To clean it, I use plain old soap and water and a long brush, followed by a paper towel swab.

    I used to play a GT bag, but now play a hybrid (GT inside, hide outside). No problems with the bags themselves.
    John

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    I play a Ross bag with canister system, and open the zipper after playing and air dry for a couple hours. The occasional wipe of the interior with a baby wipe is good insurance, too. The only nastiness I've seen is my blowpipe valve, it's an Airstream, which I took apart to clean after a couple of months (I play every day) and the valve was gross! I unscrewed the mouthpiece and the threads were gross as well. I've since decided on a monthly blowpipe cleaning. I'd advise all pipers to check their blowpipe. I was quite surprised.
    "Life's too short to hunt with an ugly gun"
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    Clan MacKenzie

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    Question

    what exactly is 'seasoning' ?
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    Nosce te ipsum - Dulcius ex asperis - insert wittty tri-fecta latin-ism here

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