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Brazil Discovers New Drug-Resistant Bacteria In Rio Beaches

First Posted: Jul 06, 2016 05:36 AM EDT
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Brazilian scientists found a new "super bacteria" called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE that is resistant to drugs off the coast of Rio de Janeiro's beaches, which will hold some events in the 2016 Olympic Games.

This comes in the wake of the Zika virus threat that has been recently found in Brazil.

The super bacteria, according to lead researcher Renata Picao came from the sewages of local hospitals that were channeled into the bay.

"We have been looking for 'super bacteria' in coastal waters during a one-year period in five beaches," Picao said. "We found that the threats occur in coastal waters in a variety of concentrations and that they are strongly associated with pollution."

CBE was found in water samples collected from 2013 until 2014 and Picao believes that bacteria levels have not changed since the water from the sewages flows into different waterways. The current bacteria levels turned boats brown and resulted in many fish dead, according to Spanish sailor Jordi Xammar.

The research team is set to test the effect of the bacteria on humans who come in contact with them while in the coastal waters.

Some of the beaches that are known to host the bacteria are Flamengo and Botafogo near the site of the Olympic sailing matches.

"It's a nice sailing area but every time you get some water in your face, it feels like there's some alien enemy entering your face," said, German Paralympic sailor Heiko Kroger while training in Rio. "I keep my nose and my lips closed."

One of Kroger's teammates is currently suffering severe skin infection during training and they believe that the bacteria is to blame.

Despite the presence of the bacteria, there has been no recommendation for Picao nor the Olympic authorities to move the venue for the sailing competition.

The poor sanitation infrastructure in Rio is to blame for the presence of the bacteria, according to Picao, but Cedae, Rio's water utility said that they have been following the World Health Organization's criteria.

Rio promised that it will clean its polluted waterways in time for the Summer Olympics on August 5 when it gave its bid to host in 2009.

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