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Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Discovered In Rio de Janeiro Waterways Ahead Of Olymics

Rio de Janerio
The antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found in the city's waterways. SNEHIT/Shutterstock

First discovered in China, and only recently in the United States, it now seems that bacteria resistant to all known antibiotics has also been discovered in Brazil. In an exclusive report by Reuters, evidence of “super bacteria" has been found in the waterways that will soon be used in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Health worries for the upcoming Olympics have already been plaguing the competition, with the threat of Zika topping most lists. This has led to some athletes questioning whether or not to compete at all, while others are taking even more extreme actions, such as Greg Rutherford who has frozen his sperm just in case he contracts the virus. Others have warned against the Olympians swimming in the highly polluted waters, as it is claimed that raw sewage from Rio flows into the Guanabara Bay where they will be competing.


With the announcement that a drug-resistant bacteria has now also been found in the waters surrounding Rio de Janeiro, fresh doubts have been raised about the safety of the athletes. Samples taken from the waterways surrounding the city have apparently found the bacteria at five different sites, including the popular Copacabana beach. The study that documents the finding is yet to be published, but has been seen exclusively by Reuters news agency. They have also been shown a second paper in relation to the bacteria.

This other study, to be published next month by the American Society for Microbiology, documents how genes of “super bacteria" have been found in both the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon and in a river that flows into Guanabara Bay. It is thought that the waste from millions of households flowing into storm drains and rivers, where it then mixes with waste from hospitals, provides the perfect conditions for antibiotic resistance to be cultured.

These reports coming from Brazil follow hot on the heels of a warning in the United States, where it was announced that a urinary tract infection was found to be resistant to all known antibiotics. The Reed National Medical Center found that the bacteria responsible contained the mcr-1 gene, which confers resistance to colistin, the antibiotic used as a last resort when all others have failed.

This gene was itself found to be in bacteria living on 21 percent of domestic animals in China, where it was first discovered last year that the gene could be passed between species of bacteria, making it more likely that resistance to all antibiotics will become commonplace. These fears have seemingly been realized, as is the worry that we are fast approaching a post-antibiotic era, where common infections that were once routine to treat will become life-threatening.


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  • zika,

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