Let’s take a look at some of the hideous pathogens that 1,400 athletes, will be exposed to while competing in the water. Pretty scary stuff, especially since it has been estimated that ingestion of a couple of ounces of the water is “almost certain” to make an athlete sick.
- Adenoviruses- A family of viruses that can cause multiple symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, pneumonia, and pink eye. There is no vaccine, nor are there any antiviral drugs that treat adenovirus infections. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, where the rowing competition will take place was found to have an astronomical 1.7 billion adenovirus particles per liter of water in March 2015. By comparison, a study, of various bodies of water in Southern California reported adenovirus concentrations ranging from 880 to 7,500 per liter of water.
- Norovirus- Incorrectly called the “stomach flu,” (it has no relation to influenza), norovirus is considered to be one of the most (if not the most) contagious pathogen in the world. As few as 10-100 norovirus particles have been estimated to be sufficient for people to become infected. The primary method of spread is fecal to oral. (Outbreaks are typically seen in restaurants when a food handler who caught the bug returned to work too soon.) So, fecal matter from hundreds of thousands of people is going untreated into the water. What could possibly go wrong? There is no vaccine or drug for norovirus.
- Rotavirus- Similar symptoms to norovirus, but more likely to infect children. There are very effective rotavirus vaccines available.
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)- One of the most antibiotic resistant bacteria in the world (superbugs). It can cause meningitis, gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections. Worse still, it can infect the blood (sepsis). The mortality rate for CRE sepsis is 50 percent.
- E. Coli- A very common intestinal bacteria. It is used as a surrogate marker, indirectly measuring the concentration of fecal pathogens. Most strains are harmless, but there is one called O157: H7, which can cause severe infections that are sometimes fatal.
- Typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A. Need I go on?
John: Well that today’s PSA. How many people remember the name of a old Glenn Ford movie about WWII?…
…”Don’t go near the water!”. Sound advice.