Vomit Machine Helps Researchers Study Disease, Face Totally Unnecessary

By Maddie Stone on at

Projectile vomiting: Disgusting, yes, but also your body’s natural way of dealing with being ill. Oh, and a great way to spread your vile germs to others, according to research conducted with the lovely vomit simulator depicted above.

That’s right: If you’ve got a stomach virus and you blow chunks, you’re going to blow virus particles into the air, too. Because we really needed to prove this with science, Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus and her colleagues at North Carolina State University built a vomit machine out of tubes, pumps and valves. They loaded the machine’s “stomach” with fake vomit, in addition to a healthy dose of the virus MS2 — a less dangerous version of the common stomach virus known as norovirus.

Do you want to know what the scientists found? Well, I’m going to tell you! In all their experiments, projectile vomiting spewed virus particles into the air, and the amount of particles increased when the machine vomited with more pressure. Only a very tiny amount of the vomit’s volume — 0.00007 to 0.03 per cent — was actually aerosolised in any experiment, but this still translated into anywhere between 40 and 10,000 virus particles. And that’s still enough to do some damage, because according to Jaykus, it takes only 20 - 1,300 stomach viruses particles to infect a person.

So, moral of the story: If your loved one is puking up norovirus, keep a healthy distance. If you’re puking up norovirus, do everyone a favour and be gentle about it.

Okay: We got threw that one together. I, however, still have one unanswered question: Was the face really necessary?

[The New York Times]