Scientists at North Carolina State University and Wake Forest University have developed a vomiting device that gives the first direct evidence that vomiting can aerosolize virus particles similar to human norovirus.
"Epidemiological evidence has pointed to virus aerosolization during vomiting as a likely route for spreading norovirus, and our work here confirms that it's not only possible but probable," says Lee-Ann Jaykus, a professor of food, bioprocessing and nutrition sciences at NC State.
Jaykus explains that when one person vomits, the aerosolized virus particles can get into another person's mouth and, if swallowed, can lead to infection.
"But those airborne particles could also land on nearby surfaces like tables and door handles, causing environmental contamination. And norovirus can hang around for weeks, so anyone that touches that table and then puts their hand to their mouth could be at risk for infection," says Jaykus.
The new device can precisely control the volume, viscosity and pressure of simulated vomiting.
The paper was published August 19 in the journal PLOS ONE.