Olympic chiefs have pledged to arrest fears that sailors and windsurfers at the next Games will not just have to deal with their rivals on the water but a potential super-bug under it. Researchers have found a bacteria more typically encountered in hospital waste which produces the enzyme KPC in several different locations along the Carioca River, which feeds Guanabara Bay where the sailing events will take place.
The bacteria is resistant to antibiotics and can cause urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections although Rio officials are adamant the risk is “minimal.”
But the International Olympic Committee insisted it had been made aware of the problem and was working closely with Rio officials to minimize any potential risks.
The IOC statement, sent to CNN, read: “The health and safety of the athletes is our number one priority. Rio has created a task force to monitor this situation and we are being kept fully updated by them.
“We will continue to work with Rio to ensure that the athletes are able to compete safely and in the best conditions possible.”
The research is the work of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, considered one of the world’s main public health research institutions.
Study coordinator Ana Paula D’Alincourt Carvalho Assef, of the foundation, said in an email to the Associated Press: “There is a risk of contracting diseases, which are not more serious than those caused by other microorganisms. The problem is that in case of infection, it is possible that treatment involves hospitalization.
“Since the super-bacteria are resistant to most modern medications, doctors need to rely on drugs that are rarely used because they are toxic to the organism.”
Earlier this year, biologist Mario Moscatelli described the Marina Gloria, which will serve as a base for the sailing competitions, as a “toilet.”