'Super Bacteria' Could Endanger Olympic Athletes in Brazil

'Super Bacteria' Could Endanger Olympic Athletes in Brazil

Scientists in Brazil warn that the waters around Rio de Janeiro contain a “super bacteria” that could threaten the health of Olympic athletes who compete in the sports on the ocean.

The bacteria is caused by the tons of untreated sewage that the city releases on a daily basis into the ocean because of the absence of modern sewage treatment facilities.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that the bacteria contains the “KPC enzyme.” It is resistant to drugs, hard to treat, and is a virulent bacteria usually encountered in hospitals. It is being found in all the ocean waters and the sewage system in and around Rio as well as in the Carioca River.

One of the scientists who helped author the study of Rio’s waters, Ana Paula D’Alincourt Carvalho Assef, said that doctors have few resources for treating anyone who might become infected with the bacteria.

“The illnesses caused by these microorganisms are the same as those caused by common bacteria, but they require stronger antibiotics and, sometimes, can require hospitalization,” she said. “Since the super bacteria are resistant to the most modern medications, doctors need to rely on drugs that are rarely used because they are toxic to the organism.”

The water quality has been a concern for some time for Olympians and as the date for the games nears, the situation does not seem to have gotten much better.

A former member of Canada’s Olympic sailing team who is an advocate for the athletes said they are troubled by the findings.

“I think the sailors are probably going to cross their fingers they aren’t going to get sick,” he said.

When the Olympics were announced for Rio, city officials claimed they would reduce water pollution by 80 percent before the games begin. But this month they had to admit that this goal could not be met.

Regardless, officials dismiss concerns that the waters will be dangerous to athletes.

It isn’t just Olympians who are told to worry about the waters around Rio, though. Even locals are warned to stay out of the waters. Flamengo Beach, one of Rio’s most beautiful and iconic beaches, is frequently declared unfit for swimming.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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