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Athletic swimmers at Rio Olympics to compete in water contaminated with human feces


(NaturalNews) The Olympic Games have officially kicked off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; however, health experts continue to raise concerns about the safety of the competing athletes and foreign visitors.

Earlier this month a new drug-resistant 'superbug' was detected off the coast of Copacabana beach, where many athletes will be sailing, windsurfing and even swimming. According to the New York Times, these life-threatening superbugs are not the only thing lurking in these Olympic waters.

Despite Brazil's promises to clean up Guanabara Bay and its famous beaches, South Florida Times reports that an Associated Press investigation found that the water is so filthy and contaminated with human feces that the athletes risk becoming violently ill, which may ruin their Olympic dream.

Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician who works in poor neighborhoods, said "Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms." Dr. Becker added, "It's sad but also worrisome."

Keep your mouth closed

As reported by the New York Times, health experts in Brazil have but one word of advice for the competing Olympic marathon swimmers, sailors and windsurfers: "Keep your mouth closed."

Government officials and the International Olympic Committee admitted that the water is filthy at several locations throughout the city, but they assured that the areas where athletes will compete meet World Health Organization safety standards.

They further said that even though some places, like Guanabara Bay, may contain higher levels of human waste, the risk will only be minimal as the athletes sailing or windsurfing in them will have limited contact with the contaminated water.

Medical professionals in the city and Olympic coaches find these claims laughable.

Andrea Correa, the top environmental official of Rio de Janeiro, said that basic sanitation is the city's biggest plague. While the government promised to tackle sewage issues, much of the waste water and trash produced by the region's 12 million inhabitants continues to pollute Rio's waterways.

According to Stelberto Soares, an engineer working in Rio's sanitation department, big items like sofas and dead bodies can be blocked, but nothing can be done to prevent bacteria and viruses from entering the bay.

Last year, the Associated Press found that at some places the water contained up to 1.7 million times the level of disease-causing viruses that would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.

If you are planning a trip to Rio anytime soon, immune and digestive system-supporting supplements are a must on your travel packing checklist.

Sickness is inevitable

Professor Picao, a microbiologist at the Federal University of Rio, explained that unlike Rio's residents, who have repeatedly been exposed to the contaminated water, foreign visitors and athletes are more likely to get sick after contact with waste water.

Sewage water can cause gastroenteritis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, infections of the skin, eyes, ears, throat, and other illnesses. Health experts said that athletes, especially these training and competing in these waters, are at much higher risk of contracting traveler's diarrhea than tourists.

However, as a tourist or Olympic spectator you aren't entirely safe either. Health experts have warned that everybody should take extra caution when splashing around on Rio's famous beaches.

Not surprisingly the New York Times reported that some of this years' athletes are already afflicted by gastrointestinal illness, including members of the Spanish and Austrian sailing teams. Last year nearly a quarter of the participants in a surfing competition were sidelined by nausea and diarrhea.

To protect U.S. Olympic rowers, Athletics apparel maker Boathouse Sports has designed a new, high-tech training suit with antimicrobial and water repellent features to protect them against Rio's toxic wastewater.

Sources for this article include:

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