Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Bagpipers Urged to Keep Their Pipes Clean of Fungi

WARNING: your bagpipes may kill you! 

Leading piping organisations have issued a hygiene alert after a piper was hospitalised for four weeks having contracted a potentially fatal lung infection… from his ­bagpipes.

John Shone, an expert in classical piping, first learned to play while a member of the Boys’ Brigade seven decades ago and has practised daily ever since.

But the 77-year-old’s love of Scotland’s national instrument was sorely tested after he ­inhaled fungal spores which had colonised his bagpipes.

The College of Piping has now warned pipers to be aware of the dangers of not cleaning their bagpipes properly, particularly those that have modern synthetic bags, which do not demand the traditional maintenance treatments that help keep old-style bags, made from hide, clean.
Shone, a former committee member of the Piobaireachd Society, was preparing to play at a special event in September when he fell ill during a fishing trip to Scotland. He was forced to return to his ­Wiltshire home.

His GP prescribed anti­biotics but they did not work and he was admitted to hospital. Two days later, he was sent home, but a week later his health deteriorated rapidly and he was quickly readmitted to ­hospital.

As he lay in a critical condition, doctors were mystified by the cause of his illness and struggled in vain for more than a week to cure him using a variety of antibiotics.

“I was extremely tired and slowly fading away and my consultant told me it was life-threatening,” said Shone, who added that he had been told the spores he had inhaled had a 50 per cent chance of killing him.

“I became very much weaker and it was obvious to my consultant and my son that they were dealing with a life-or-death situation,” he added.

It was only after a consultant questioned him about his hobbies that a possible cause was found.

Read the full article by Fiona MacGregor

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