bacteria carrying water LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 10: Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece competes during the Men’s Marathon 10km swim on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Hyde Park on August 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The news surrounding the upcoming Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro continues to get worse and worse. From concerns over the Zika virus to the unstable Brazilian government, there is little to suggest these games will go off without a hitch. The latest report on the safety of the games is even more concerning.

Scientists have reportedly uncovered drug-resistant “super bacteria” on Rio’s beaches that will host Olympic swimming events, and also in a lagoon that is set to host events in canoeing and rowing. These latest findings come from two, as of yet unpublished studies whose results were disclosed to Reuters.

A study published in 2014 already announced the finding of these kinds of super bacteria in one Brazilian beach that is set to host sailing and wind-surfing events. These latest studies indicate this sort of bacteria is also present at five other Rio beaches, including one that will host triathlon and open-water swimming.

Not only is this bacteria extremely difficult to treat, it is also tremendously dangerous.

The super bacteria can cause hard-to-treat urinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and bloodstream infections, along with meningitis. The CDC says studies show that these bacteria contribute to death in up to half of patients infected. 

The areas shown to continue this bacteria pose a risk to spectators as well as athletes. The most popular tourist beaches among the five identified (Ipanema and Leblon), “tested positive for the super bacteria 50 and 60 percent of the time, respectively.”

The bacteria is in these areas thanks to a systemic mismanagement of waste and lack of proper sanitation. Waste from hospitals and homes pours into the city’s waterways and leads to the spread of a kind of bacteria normally only found in medical centers.

Scientists say the impact of this super bacteria depends on the state of the immune system it comes into contact with. Someone might not even realize they have the super bacteria in their system until well after it has entered it.

These bacteria are opportunistic microbes that can enter the body, lie dormant, then attack at a later date when a healthy person may fall ill for another reason.

Super bacteria infect not only humans but also otherwise-harmless bacteria present in the waters, turning them into antibiotic-resistant germs.

As if fans and athletes didn’t have enough to worry about…


About Ben Sieck

Ben is a recent graduate of Butler University where he served as Managing Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Butler Collegian. He currently resides in Indianapolis.