Studies reveal drug-resistant super bacteria in Rio Olympics water venues

The long list of water-borne bacteria issues that have plagued the 2016 Summer Olympics from the moment Rio pledged to clean its waterways in 2009 may be growing with the addition of super bacteria.

According to two unpublished studies obtained by Reuters, antibiotic-resistant super bacteria has been found in the water of several of Rio’s most popular beaches. The findings would piggyback onto reports from ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and the Associated Press that found Rio’s local waterways to be contaminated by sewage and boasting high levels of virus and bacteria. Reuters reports the studies posit the super bacteria is the result of runoff waste initiated at local hospitals and houses.

The first study, reviewed by members of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Diego, revealed microbes at five of Rio’s beaches – Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo and Flamengo. Ninety percent of the samples taken at Flamengo, the location of Olympic sailing events, contained the super bacteria. The Copacabana samples revealed the microbes to be present in 10 percent of samples. In addition to being the location of open-water and triathlon events, the venues are also a spot for locals and tourists to visit.

The second study was conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation lab and will be published in the July edition of the American Society for Microbiology. This study uncovered the super bacteria genes in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, the location of rowing and canoe Olympic events. Exposure to the super bacteria can result in urinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and bloodstream infections and meningitis; according to Reuters, the CDC says the studies revealed fatal results in half of those infected.

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A February report by “Outside the Lines” revealed the goal set by Rio after being awarded the Olympics in 2009 — to clean 80 percent of the sewage plaguing local waterways — would not be met.

This report built on one published by the AP in December 2015 that found raw sewage to be the cause of the water’s high pathogens level.