27 May 2011
Bacteria have been found to survive for almost 2 weeks inside wind instruments.
US researchers took samples from 20 musical instruments, including clarinets, flutes and saxophones, and found them to be a common source of bacteria, as well as mould or yeast. Wooden reeds and mouthpieces harboured the greatest quantities of bacteria (Int J Environ Health Res 2011, online 11 May).
They also applied the bacteria Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus and a deactivated strain of tuberculosis to a clarinet via simulated playing. The first 2 types of bacteria survived for "one to 2 days", while the tuberculosis bacteria remained alive for up to 13 days.
"Thousands of children share musical instruments in elementary and high school each year but there is no established standard for cleaning those instruments," the researchers said.
Last Reviewed: 27 May 2011