It’s no secret that Rio de Janeiro has got some serious raw sewage problems. But now, a new Reuters report suggests that it’s a lot worse than previously thought.
Reuters got a look at two unpublished scientific studies which suggest that Rio de Janeiro’s iconic water-front spots are host to a drug-resistant “super bacteria.”
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.
Sewage runoff from hospitals and hundreds of thousands of homes across Rio de Janeiro drain untreated into Guanabara Bay—where Olympic sailing and wind-surfing will take place in August—as well as its iconic beaches of Ipanema, Leblon, and Copacabana: Olympic host site of open-water and triathlon swimming.
One team of scientists have now detected drug-resistant “super bacteria” in all of those water-front areas, while another found the same problem in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in central Rio, which will host Olympic canoeing and rowing.
In 2015, the Associated Press ran tests throughout the city’s waterways, revealing that Rio’s iconic beaches were often as dirty as raw sewage.
When Rio won the Olympic bid in 2009, officials made cleaning waterways a central promise of their campaign. They promised to reduce the amount of untreated sewage flowing into waterways by 80 percent.
But, as Reuters puts it:
That goal has instead transformed into an embarrassing failure, with athletes lamenting the stench of sewage and complaining about debris that bangs into and clings to boats in Guanabara Bay, potential hazards for a fair competition.