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Harmonica Colds

February 13, 2013

A listener asks if he can reinfect himself with the same cold.



Musical germs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Jeff Enterline of Youngstown, Ohio, plays the harmonica in a rock band. Recently, he played a gig while suffering from a cold. He wants to know how long he should wait before playing the instrument again to avoid reinfecting himself. Well, not to worry, Jeff. According to Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist William Shaffner, you’ll develop antibodies to those particular germs so they won’t make you sick again. Of course, while you’re sick, you shouldn’t share your harmonica.

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER (Vanderbilt University):

When he has the cold, he will contaminate his harmonica, and left alone, that virus will diminish in concentration fairly rapidly over a series of hours because the harmonica is not a very hospitable environment for that virus.

And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question, we’ll send you a Science Update mug! I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Harmonica. (Jupiter Images)