The coastal waters around Rio de Janeiro, where many Olympic water competitions will soon take place, are reportedly teeming with harmful viruses and bacteria. So what illnesses might people catch if they swallow some of the water?
If the water has been contaminated with raw sewage, as has been reported, then a number of common pathogens could be lurking there and make people ill, experts say.
“There are many types of microbes in raw sewage that have the potential to cause human disease,” said Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.
A study of Rio’s beaches commissioned by the Associated Press found much higher levels of viruses and markers for bacterial contamination in some cases than would be considered safe in the United States.
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