CHICAGO, March 16 (UPI) -- The benefits of children playing a musical instrument include increasing intelligence but a used instrument can be a source of germs, U.S. researchers say.
A study published in the March/April issue of General Dentistry found used woodwind and brass instruments could be heavily contaminated with a variety of bacteria and fungi, many 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," lead author R. Thomas Glass says in a statement. "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."
A total of 13 previously played instruments of a high-school band were tested in 117 different places including the mouthpieces, internal chambers and cases. Six of the instruments had been played within a week of testing, while seven hadn't been touched in about one month.
The study found the instruments produced 442 different bacteria, many of which were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause staph infections, while 58 molds and 19 yeasts were also identified.
Instruments should be cleaned after each use to reduce the number of organisms and cleaning should not be confined to the mouthpiece, since the bacteria invade the entire instrument, Cynthia Sherwood, spokeswoman for the Academy of General Dentistry says.