Blog | Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Larry the vomit simulator

Reuters recently had an article on Larry, a humanoid simulated vomiting system, which is used to analyze the effect of norovirus environmental contamination.

I always like to add a picture to my blog posts, but today you'll be thankful I did not. Anyway, the synthetic vomitus used in the simulator, has a fluorescent marker that enables investigators to examine how widespread is the contamination after an episode of vomiting.

Using Larry, they have found that droplets travel over 10 feet. This is important since the infecting dose of norovirus is very small, which makes it highly transmissible. As noted in the article, each droplet of vomitus has enough virus to infect over 100,000 people.

I have always wondered why anti-emetics are not available over-the-counter. If they were, quite a lot of misery could be avoided, ER visits averted, and maybe they would even provide norovirus source control by reducing environmental contamination.

Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, is a hospital epidemiologist in Richmond, Va., with a focus on understanding why infections occur in the hospital and ways to prevent these infections, and sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings. This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.