‘Vomiting device’ sounds gross but it helps study infections
Machine that simulates throwing up shows researchers how noroviruses spread
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A mechanical system that imitates projectile vomiting.
Researchers in North Carolina use the barfing machine to study how human noroviruses, leading causes of upchucking worldwide, spread through the air.
The vomiting device’s tubes, valves, piston and pump imitate a human mouth, throat and stomach at one-quarter size. A clay face mask gives the machine an appropriate expression of misery, but it also provides weight to bend the throat down, simulating the flexed neck of a heaving human.
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Every vomiting trial sent viruses into the air, the researchers say August 19 in PLOS ONE. The team estimates that depending on pump pressure and the virus concentration in the throw-up, as few as 36 and as many as over 13,000 virus particles were released by the mechanical spewing. Just 20 norovirus particles can cause infection, so vomiting probably can spread norovirus to more unfortunate victims.
UPCHUCK Researcher Grace Tung-Thompson of North Carolina State University in Raleigh demonstrates the vomiting device in action.NoroCORE/YouTube