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John Shone, 78, nearly died after contracting fungal pneumonia from playing dirty bagpipes.
A lifelong bagpipe player nearly died after contracting fungal pneumonia from playing dirty pipes.
John Shone, 78, is recovering from the near fatal infection that doctors say was caused by spores that grew inside his bagpipes, which hadn't been cleaned in 18 months, reports NBC News.
"Failing to clean my pipes led to me becoming critically ill," said Shone, who used his story as a cautionary tale for other musicians.
"It is very important for pipers worldwide to clean their instruments," he told NBC News.
Shone, from Wiltshire in the United Kingdom, spent four weeks in the hospital battling the infection, reports the Daily Mail.
He was so weak he couldn't walk and lost 14 pounds.
Doctors only diagnosed the cause of the fungal pneumonia after finding out about his bagpipe hobby.
His son brought the beloved bagpipes into the hospital where pathologists discovered multiple fungal cultures including the Rhodotorula and Fusarium species, which can cause deadly infections, according to the Daily Mail.
Shone shared his story in the March issue of the bagpipe magazine, Piping Times, which is published by the Glasgow-based College of Piping.
College president Robert Wallace told the Daily Mail that he had never heard of bagpipes causing such a serious illness before.
"It's very important that all pipers make sure they sterilize their pipe bag regularly. With the advent of synthetic bags, this maintenance is even more essential," he said.
Traditional bagpipes are made of hide that requires regular maintenance, which kept the instruments cleaner. Newer bagpipes are made of synthetic materials which, uncleaned, can be a breeding ground for bacteria.