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Published On: Wed, Aug 3rd, 2016

2016 Summer Olympic Games: Water contaminated as athletes, travelers warned ‘Don’t put your head under water’

With the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are just days away and experts are warning that the Rio de Janeiro waterways are filthy, contaminated with raw human sewage, contaminated with dangerous viruses and bacteria. The new report warns athletes to stay out of the water, many are now  preventatively taking antibiotics, bleaching oars and donning plastic suits and gloves in a bid to limit contact with the water.

The first results of the study showed viral levels at up to 1.7 million times what would be considered the limits in the United States or Europe. At those concentrations, swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water are almost certain to be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory illnesses.

“That’s a very, very, very high percentage,” said Dr. Valerie Harwood, Chair of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida. “Seeing that level of human pathogenic virus is pretty much unheard of in surface waters in the U.S. You would never, ever see these levels because we treat our waste water. You just would not see this.”

 photo D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

photo D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

Harwood had one piece of advice for travelers to Rio: “Don’t put your head under water.”

Swimmers who cannot heed that advice stand to ingest water through their mouths and noses and therefore risk “getting violently ill,” she said.

 

Not only are some 1,400 athletes at risk of getting violently ill in water competitions, but the AP’s tests indicate that tourists also face potentially serious health risks on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

Samples from the beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema revealed high levels of viruses, which recent studies have suggested can pose a health risk – particularly to babies and small children.

“Both of them have pretty high levels of infectious adenovirus,” said Harwood, adding that the virus could be particularly hazardous to babies and toddlers who play in the sand.

“You know how quickly an infant can get dehydrated and have to go to the hospital,” she added. “That’s the scariest point to me.”

Dr. Fernando Spilki, the virologist and coordinator of the molecular microbiology laboratory at Feevale University in southern Brazil says the survey revealed no appreciable improvement in Rio’s blighted waters – despite cleanup promises stretching back decades.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen throughout all this time is that there is a variation in the levels of contamination, but it fluctuates much more as a result of climactic conditions than due to any measures that may have been taken to try to remove this contamination,” said Spilki, one of Brazil’s most respected virologists.

“If these were the reported values in the United States, let’s say in California, there is definitely an indication of a problem,” said a waterborne virus expert at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Dr. Kristina Mena of fecal water tests.

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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