Water in Rio Has Viruses at 1.7 Million Times the Level that Would Be Alarming in US/Europe

A 16-month long report by the Associated Press has released some scary results.  They discovered that the water in Rio has viruses  at rates that would be 1.7 million times the level that would be alarming in the US and Europe.


They estimate that athletes only need to ingest *three* tablespoons of water to be infected with the virus.

From an article in the Independent on the study:

While athletes take precautions, what about the 300,000-500,000 foreigners expected to descend on Rio for the Olympics? Testing at several of the city’s world-famous beaches has shown that in addition to persistently high viral loads, the beaches often have levels of bacterial markers for sewage pollution that would be cause for concern abroad – and sometimes even exceed Rio state’s lax water safety standards.

In light of the AP’s findings, Harwood had one piece of advice for travellers to Rio: “Don’t put your head under water.”

The Olympic committee insists the water is safe, but has only been testing for bacteria.  But these are viruses.

Olympic teams have faced health risks when traveling in the past.

The Beijing Olympics were highly polluted thanks to smog and athletes were really concerned about the health warnings.

But this case is different in that the specific activities the athletes are engaging in increase their risk of getting sick.

I’m just worried they’ll have to choose between their health and their sport.  (Or at least, having to weigh mixed reports about the health risks and their sport).

Edit:  earlier versions of recording on this were talking about the Zika Virus.   However,  that was incorrect as the Associated Press research was done about viruses generally. 

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. The article doesn’t mention Zika at all. The viruses in the water have nothing to do with Zika, but they will mess you up badly in their own way. I feel bad for the athletes who are competing.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Yeah, you are right. It’s already updated if you refresh. Reports were saying Zika earlier (probably because that’s the one everyone keeps talking about) but were quickly fixed it seems.

      I agree with you that it’s bad either way.

  2. Your headline is ridiculous and inaccurate. Zika is a bloodborne pathogen, there is no way for it to just exist in sea water.

  3. Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money. If the IOC is so sure that the water’s just fine, they should take the opportunity to prove so by having the entire committee frolicking in the water there for an hour or two.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      That reminds me of a scene in A Civil Action (about the town with the bad water). The lawyer for the families suing about the water was having a meeting with the other side. He put out water for them while they insisted the water in the town was safe. As they went to drink it, he let them know it was from the town’s water supply. They wouldn’t touch it. It was a powerful scene, and maybe what we need here!

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