Scientists identify superbug in Rio Olympic water venues

As if concerns regarding the safety of traveling to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics weren't high enough due to the Zika virus outbreak, two new unpublished academic studies suggest there may also be a dangerous drug-resistant "super bacteria" in the city's beach water and lagoon, where various events are to be held, Reuters reports.

According to the Reuters exclusive, one of the studies was reviewed by scientists in September, and it uncovered the presence of the microbes at five of Rio's beaches, including Copacabana beach, where open-water and triathlon swimming events are scheduled to take place.

The second study identified the genes of super bacteria in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio and in a river that empties into Guanabara Bay. The lagoon is where rowing and canoe athletes are supposed to compete. The study will be published next month by the American Society for Microbiology, according to the report.

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The studies have prompted federal police and prosecutors to question whether Rio's water utility Cedae is committing environmental crimes by lying about how much sewage it treats. Cedae has denied any wrongdoing, Reuters reports.

Reuters contacted INEA, the Environmental Agency of São Paulo State, regarding the study findings. The agency responded with an emailed statement, saying it follows the World Health Organization's recommendations for testing recreational water safety, and that screening for super bacteria is not required by WHO's recommendations.

"[The INEA] also said there was a lack of studies about the bacteria in water and health outcomes," according to the Reuters report.

 

 

More articles on the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro:
WHO to rethink Zika travel recommendations for Olympics next week
Olympics could see as few as 15 Zika infections, researchers claim
Opinion: 5 reasons Zika should delay the Olympics

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