An antibiotic-resistant super-bacteria has been discovered in Rio Bay by Brazilian scientists. The bacteria is thought to emanate from hospital water. This pollution in the bay could affect the hosting of sailing events at the 2016.
Contact with the bacteria, which was found at three locations in a river feeding Guanabara Bay, could cause infections that require hospitalization, said microbiologist Ana Paula d'Alincourt, who led the study by the Oswaldo Cruz Institute.
So far no swimmers have been affected.
"You could get sick, but no more so than from other microorganisms. The problem is that if someone is infected, it's possible the treatment would require hospitalization and antibiotics that are no longer used because they are toxic to the body," she said.
The bacteria, which produces an enzyme resistant to standard antibiotics, was found in the Carioca River.
One of the competition sites, Marina da Gloria, is near Flamengo Beach, where the river empties.
Thousands of liters (gallons) of untreated dirty water are dumped every day in the bay, described by one leading biologist as a "toilet."
Dead animals, television sets, sofas, shoes and other detritus have all been found in the waters, which authorities are scrambling to clean up.
A remediation plan was put in place in March ahead of the 2016 Olympics, but authorities concede they will only be able to clean up the bay by 80 percent.
"Rio de Janiero in the 21st century has the same sanitation as in the 18th century. All the city's rivers are used as sewers" biologist Mario Moscatelli, an expert on the matter, told AFP Tuesday.
During a first Olympic sailing test in August, Australian Olympic champion Nathan Outteridge hit a dead dog with his boat.