Germs Thrive on Horns Passed Around in School Bands: Study

Instruments tested from one troupe were contaminated with bacteria, fungi

WEDNESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Tooting another's horn may pose a health threat to children participating in their school's band, a new study suggests.

Researchers tested 13 instruments used in a high school band and found they were heavily contaminated with different kinds of bacteria and fungi, many of which are associated with minor to serious infections and allergic diseases.

The researchers identified 442 different bacteria -- including many that can cause staph infections -- along with 58 molds and 19 yeasts. Mold can contribute to the development of asthma, and yeasts can cause skin infections around the mouth and lips.

The study appears in the March/April issue of the journal General Dentistry.

"Many children participate in their school's band ensemble and often the instruments they play are on loan," lead author R. Thomas Glass said in a journal news release. "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."

Instrument surfaces that come into contact with the skin and mouth should be wiped frequently, and the instrument should be taken apart for thorough cleanings on a regular basis. It's best to use cleaning cloths and solutions made specifically for instruments, Glass said.

Most importantly, students should not share their instruments with others, the researchers said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children's health.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: General Dentistry, news release, March 14, 2011

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