Bagpipe Lung – Piper Down!


Pipers are warned to clean their bagpipes after fungus growing within the bag on one set was recently identified as the cause of a fatal lung disease.  Warm, moist, leather bags can create the perfect environment to cultivate different deadly fungi – if left unattended. The simple solution is to make sure you clean your bagpipes.

If you use a leather bag (either sheepskin or hide) use ‘bagpipe seasoning’ on a regular basis. Use a brush to clean around the inside the stocks and regularly inspect for mould. Your blowstick should also be cleaned. Synthetic bags can be washed out and left to dry. The plastic mouth piece can be unscrewed, washed in soapy water and rinsed.

Doctors were left mystified to why a healthy 61 year old, who could run  20km and didn’t smoke became more and more breathless.

The findings by researchers from the University Hospital of South Manchester came after a 61-year-old man was referred to a specialist lung clinic in 2014 after seven years of a dry cough and progressive breathlessness, despite treatment with immunosuppressant drugs.

They describe a rare but fatal case of what they are now calling “bagpipe lung” in a 61-year-old patient. It is understood he played his bagpipes nearly on a daily basis.

It is worth noting, that such a reaction, is still extremely rare – however, next time you take the pipes out the box, it would be best to check to see what might be lurking inside.

Reference: Bagpipe Lung – British Medical Journal

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