A robot helping researchers study the highly infectious norovirus is one you probably won’t never want to play with.
According to a report by Reuters, the unfortunately named humaniod robot “Vomiting Larry” is a simulated vomiting system helping researchers study the virus that University of Cambridge professor Ian Goodfellow calls “the Ferrari of the virus world.”
Here’s more from the report about the research and how Larry is helping:
“Norovirus is one of the most infectious viruses of man,” said Ian Goodfellow, a professor of virology at the department of pathology at Britain’s University of Cambridge, who has been studying noroviruses for 10 years.
“It takes fewer than 20 virus particles to infect someone. So each droplet of vomit or gram of feces from an infected person can contain enough virus to infect more than 100,000 people.”
“The dramatic nature of the vomiting episodes produces a lot of aerosolized vomit, much of which is invisible to the naked eye,” Goodfellow told Reuters.
Larry’s projections were easy to spot because he had been primed with a “vomitus substitute”, scientists explain, which included a fluorescent marker to help distinguish even small splashes – but they would not be at all easily visible under standard white hospital lighting.
It doesn’t help that the virus is also resistant to many traditional household disinfectants as well, according to Reuters.
Watch this video from the BBC about the research being done at Cambridge, in which the Health and Safety Laboratory’s Larry has a cameo appearance (Note: skip to 2:43 if you want to see Larry, well, do his thing):
In the U.S., the CDC reported an average of 20 million norovirus cases each year, 70,000 thousand of these end up in the hospital and up to 800 die. There is no vaccine or treatment aside from riding it out. The virus spreads quickly, especially in areas like schools, universities, the workplace, daycare and even in hospitals. The CDC cited hand washing as one of the best measures to prevent contracting the virus. Find more prevention tips here.
Read more about the norovirus research here.
(H/T: Popular Science)