Researchers have warned that playing a used music instrument can pose a potentially dangerous health risk.
According to the study, used woodwind and brass instruments were found to be heavily contaminated with a variety of bacteria and fungi, many of which are associated with minor to serious infectious and allergic diseases.
"Many children participate in their school's band ensemble and often the instruments they play are on loan," said R. Thomas Glass, lead author of the study.
"Most of these instruments have been played by other students, and without the proper sanitation, bacteria and fungi can thrive for weeks and even months after the last use,” said Glass.
A total of 117 different sites, including the mouthpieces, internal chambers, and cases, were tested on 13 previously played instruments of a high school band. Six of the instruments had been played within a week of testing, while seven hadn''t been touched in about one month.
The instruments produced 442 different bacteria, many of which were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause staph infections. Additionally, 58 molds and 19 yeasts were identified.
"Parents may not realize that the mold in their child''s instrument could contribute to the development of asthma," said Glass.
Additionally, the yeasts on the instruments commonly cause skin infections around the mouth and lips.
Researchers stated that many of the bacteria can cause illness in humans and are highly resistant to the antibiotics normally prescribed by general practitioners.
The study has been published in the issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).