Team GB Athletes are playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their health competing in Rio this summer warn experts.
Sport stars will be competing in water that is so polluted with germs they could end up with liver failure, in a coma or have their brains eaten alive.
Independent water virologists found every waterway to be used in the Olympics is contaminated with germs.
Rowers, sailors and canoeists face the greatest risk competing in heavily polluted waters which have already seen Olympic hopefuls from other countries struck down with severe sickness and diarrhoea.
Triathlete brothers Alastair and Jonny Brownlee also face illness having to brave the poo infested waters off the coast of Copacabana Beach.
But more worrying say experts is the potential hidden danger that British rowers and canoeists could face at their inland lake venue- lethal brain bug Naegleria Fowleri.
The same fatal bug has previously been discovered at another lake in Rio de Janerio.
Triathletes also run the risk of catching the Hepatitis virus which is often found in sewage contaminated water across South America.
Spectators aren’t immune either as they face sickness and explosive diarrhoea as popular tourist beach Ipanema has been described “little better than a sewer.”
The world’s top four golfers including Rory Mcllroy have already boycotted the games over health fears surrounding the Zika virus.
But Nick Harris, Head of Travel at Simpson Millar Solicitors – who has dealt with thousands of cases of parasitic waterborne illness outbreaks- said the real risk to athletes health could be other bugs.
“Gold medal or not, athletes need to be very wary about the water. The sea is natural waste disposal system for the whole of Rio and inland the lakes are also heavily polluted, putting tourists at risk of serious illness as well as competitors.
“If I was an athlete I would be more worried about what is in the water rather than my rivals. There could be a whole host of unpleasant bugs lurking beneath the surface of the water.
“The Brain eating bug Naegleria Fowleri can be found in warm fresh water, such as inland lakes, similar to the ones that our rowers will be competing in, in Rio. If the amoeba enters through your nose it makes its way to the brain it can destroy your cerebral tissue and death can occur within weeks.
“Another pathogen that can be found in contaminated water is Hepatitis, which is commonly found in sea water that has been contaminated by sewage. Hepatitis can lead to a multitude of health complications, with symptoms varying from jaundice to liver failure, coma and death.
“With the water being so contaminated in Brazil, the competitors will be at an increased risk of falling ill during the games.”
According to the CDC since 1962 only one person has survived after contracting the brain bug – which causes Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis ( PAM), a form of parasitic meningitis which usually kills victims in 18 days.
Symptoms appear five days after breathing in infected water up through the nose and include fever, nausea, vomiting, and headache and then death.
Respected water virologist Fernando Spilki, a coordinator of the environmental quality program at Feevale University in southern Brazil-has conducted repeated water testing in the waters in Rio over the last year.
Spilki’s testing looked for three different types of human adenovirus that are typical ‘markers’ of human sewage as well as enterovirus and rotavirus the main cause of gastroenteritis globally.
He found dangerously high levels of viruses from sewage at every water venue where 1,400 Olympic athletes will compete.
The concentration of viruses in most places were roughly equivalent to that seen in raw sewage.
The testing on behalf of AP found rotavirus on three separate occasions at Olympic sites — twice at the Rodrigo de Freitas lake where Olympic rowers will be competing and once at a beach next to the Marina Da Gloria, where sailors are expected to launch their boats.
Thirteen members of the 40 strong US team of rowers were struck down with a violent stomach bug after competing in a world championship at the Rodrigo De Freitas lagoon -a trial run in the lake for the Olympics next month.
Testing also found far higher levels of contamination from sewage offshore of Copacabana beach where the triathletes will be competing compared to the UK. Although this had the least contamination out all the places tested it still had a high concentration of viruses roughly equivalent to raw sewage.
In Rio raw sewage from toilets and houses flows direct into seas from storm drains with no dilution meaning the waters are teeming with germs.
Viral levels in the some of waters were found to be 30,000 times higher than would be considered safe in the UK or Europe.
One of Europe’s foremost swimming disease experts Allen Wilson of Studies in Work training company– who has spent 40 years teaching water hygiene to hotels and tour operators across the world – said if the beaches and lakes were in the UK they would likely be condemned.
He said: “I have no doubt there is a clear and present danger to athletes’ health competing in this polluted water. People will fall ill and for some of them it will be life changing.
“If the Brownlee brothers or the rowers ingest just three teaspoons or 20ml of infected water then they are 99 percent at risk of a whole host of diseases. More than 12 spoons worth and they could be risking death if their immune system is down. It is that serious, you have a real recipe for disaster.
“Somebody from the Olympic GB management needs to develop the ability to check the quality of the water, not just in the river and lakes, but in the pools as well. They need to ensure World Health
Organisation guidance is being followed and ensuring that our athletes health, or in a worst case scenario; life is not being compromised.”
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