Musical Instruments and Disease


Woodwind and Brass Instruments have the potential to transmit disease:

Testing has shown that musical instruments, their mouthpieces, valves, pads, tubing and their cases are heavily contaminated by bacteria, fungi and molds.  This is particularly a concern when instruments are shared and transferred in school programs where the health of the previous user is unknown.  Microorganisms accumulate on cleaning cloths and on the hands of the musician-- and they are expelled into the local environment contaminating the playing area.  Reeds are more heavily contaminated than mouthpieces.  Woodwinds are more contaminated than brass instruments.  And clarinets are more contaminated than other woodwinds. 

Many of the microbes isolated can potentially cause disease, and some are highly antibiotic resistant.  A program of frequent cleaning and sterilization of instruments is recommended, particularly before transfer to another player.  Ethylene Oxide is the only sterilant that has been shown to be effective.

General Dentistry, MAR/APR 2011

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