Medicine is definitely not always a glamorous job, as a vomiting device offers insight in viral infections and proves that an important road might not always be paved with colorful flowers and pretty rainbows. In fact, it’s quite a disgusting business, but highly efficient, which is well worth it for the sake of advancement.
Researchers at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Wake Forest University have designed a machine that simulates human barfing in order to ascertain the aerosolizing of particles of norovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states the norovirus causes a type of food poisoning that results acute gastroenteritis, which can lead to stomach pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
The scientists simulating human vomiting inside a safe box where a small head model the size of a human hand was attached to a tube that mimicked the sequence of throwing up liquid or semi-liquids at a customizable pressure. While it may not seem like a particularly complicated contraption, the findings were quite useful.
Using the odd-looking device, researchers were able to conclude that the norovirus does indeed aerosolize, and the resulting particles can go into a person’s mouth, which further leads to infection, according co-author of the paper Lee-Ann Jaykus, a professor of food, bioprocessing and nutrition sciences NCSU.
Furthermore, it was observed that all of the 13,000 particles released into the air can land on surfaces and remain there for a period of weeks. Any person who touches tables, chairs, counters or whichever object it was projected on can still get infected by lifting their hand to their mouth. It’s simple, untraceable, and a little sickening.
Jaykus further states that while a very small number in terms of percentage, 0.02% of the virus is aerosolized, it’s more than enough to infect other people. Further research is now required to see how far the particles can travel and how long.
Similar studies could one day be rooted in the vomiting machine, including some that imply the deadly Ebola virus. Officials have often firmly stated that it requires a person to come in contact with infected bodily fluids in order to contract the disease. There is no evidence that the virus spreads through coughing or sneezing, but large droplets, such as vomit, could qualify.
It’s an important area of research that is quite disgusting on the surface, but could lead to better preventions of virus travel through the air and proper understanding on how to control their further spreading.
Image source: wired.com