Bug forces Australian women’s water polo team into quarantine on eve of Games

Amy and I are terrible swimmers.

Being good Aussies, Sorenne is developing into an excellent swimmer.

aust.water.polo.aug.16But she’s getting bored of doing laps for an hour.

We suggested water polo – they have a team at the local pool – and she was, Meh.

Now, perhaps our worlds have collided (or provided another reason to talk about microorganisms, as we did on our way home from school yesterday).

Four members of the Australian women’s water polo team have been segregated from their teammates after being floored by a virus.

In a disruptive setback to the Aussie Stingers medal hopes just four days out from the games, team management ushered the four players into building BV1 — which normally houses AOC and team officials — immediately after arriving in Rio on Monday afternoon.

The four picked up a bug while training in Rome in the lead-up to this week’s games.

Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller said the four team members would not have any contact with their teammates until cleared by the team doctor.

Olympic advice: Sailors, keep your mouth closed

Andrew Jacobs  of The New York Times reports health experts in Brazil have a word of advice for the Olympic marathon swimmers, sailors and windsurfers competing in Rio de Janeiro’s picture-postcard waters next month: Keep your mouth closed.

brazil2Despite the government’s promises seven years ago to stem the waste that fouls Rio’s expansive Guanabara Bay and the city’s fabled ocean beaches, officials acknowledge that their efforts to treat raw sewage and scoop up household garbage have fallen far short.

In fact, environmentalists and scientists say Rio’s waters are much more contaminated than previously thought.

Recent tests by government and independent scientists revealed a veritable petri dish of pathogens in many of the city’s waters, from rotaviruses that can cause diarrhea and vomiting to drug-resistant “super bacteria” that can be fatal to people with weakened immune systems.

Researchers at the Federal University of Rio also found serious contamination at the upscale beaches of Ipanema and Leblon, where many of the half-million Olympic spectators are expected to frolic between sporting events.

“Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms,” said Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician who works in poor neighborhoods. “It’s sad, but also worrisome.”

Government officials and the International Olympic Committee acknowledge that, in many places, the city’s waters are filthy. But they say the areas where athletes will compete — like the waters off Copacabana Beach, where swimmers will race — meet World Health Organization safety standards.

Even some venues with higher levels of human waste, like Guanabara Bay, present only minimal risk because athletes sailing or windsurfing in them will have limited contact with potential contamination, they add.

Still, Olympic officials concede that their efforts have not addressed a fundamental problem: Much of the sewage and trash produced by the region’s 12 million inhabitants continues to flow untreated into Rio’s waters.

“Our biggest plague, our biggest environmental problem, is basic sanitation,” said Andrea Correa, the top environmental official in the state of Rio de Janeiro. “The Olympics has woken people up to the problem.”

A giant pipe running from downtown churns human waste into the marina [on Guanabara Bay] at certain times each day. Rats roam around in the waste. The stench makes uninitiated visitors feel like vomiting or fainting,” USA Today’s Martin Rogers reported Tuesday, less than two weeks before the Games kick off on Aug. 5.

Olympic-sized food safety issues for Rio

Lina Tran of Eater writes that Rio de Janeiro 2016 kicks off in less than three months, and everyone knows feeding Olympic athletes is one of the most exciting aspects of the Games.

chapman.auditRio has constructed a kitchen the size of a football field (American football, that is) and a dining room two times that, the Associated Press reports. The kitchen will prepare 60,000 meals each day for over 18,000 athletes, coaches, and staff.

The dining hall will house five all-you-can-eat buffets accommodating different tastes and diets: Brazilian, Asian, International, Pasta and Pizza, Halal and Kosher. Diners have a spectrum of international breakfast options, including congee, miso soup, and natto.

Food safety is a crucial strategy for an operation of this size, and steroids in animal meat, meant to improve lean growth, can cause false positives in drug testing of athletes. “To assure that our ingredients are free of steroids and other kinds of chemicals, we are making sure our suppliers have all the certificates that are demanded by our national food and drug agency,” says Marcello Corderio, Rio’s director of food and beverages.

Certificates? Paperwork? Really? Do better. You can’t test your way to safe food, but any program requires some sort of verification, whether it’s testing or a pair of eyes on the production facility. Not just paperwork.

Statistics for food safety at 2012 Olympics

The world’s first comprehensive, automated outbreak detection system which will monitor over 3,000 infections and is ready to run during Olympics 2012, was developed by a researcher at The Open University.

Paddy Farrington, Professor of Statistics at The Open University, began work on the outbreak detection system while he was at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the early 1990s. The system has proved its worth over the years and will be run by HPA during the period of the London 2012 Olympics.

The system has already contributed to the detection and control of numerous outbreaks of infections including:

An outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis phage type 14b in 2009, an outbreak of Salmonella Java in 2010, an outbreak of Salmonella Poona in 2012.

The system has been implemented in Sweden, southern Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark; and been adapted to detect excess mortality in Belgium.

Enhanced surveillance using the system is also planned for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow.

The system is based on a set of algorithms known as Robust Poisson Regression (RPR). Outbreak detection starts with the detection of an unusual number of reported cases of a particular infection in a given time and space. Computer programs are used to compare the observed number of cases with expected values. When an increase is detected, the program raises an alert, which epidemiologists assess to determine if further investigation is warranted. If an outbreak is confirmed, further investigations follow and control measures are taken.

Union concerns, music concerns as Vancouver Olympics open

Sarah Mclachlan was soulfully sensuous when she burst on the Canadian music scene in 1991.

Now she’s just boring.

As noted in the South Park movie, Canada has already apologized many times for Bryan Adams.

Just awful.

Maybe Bryan and Sarah had babies and that’s where Nickelback came from.

But, with the Olympic games opening in Vancouver tonight, expect to hear lots of Bryan and Sarah and crap, at least according to the adverts on NBC.

No Sloan, Tragically Hip, Neil Young or even a reformed Guess Who – all decent Canadian contributions to the soundtracks of our lives.

Nope, you’ll hear the tired and true, just like from the Service Employees International Union who sent out a press release yesterday playing the food safety card.

The Service Employees International Union, the nation’s largest healthcare union, is raising questions about the safety of food being provided to athletes at the Vancouver Winter Olympics by Sodexo, a global food service contractor based in France who served contaminated meat at a camp in Virginia sickening more than two dozen boy scouts.

The union is calling on Sodexo to provide greater transparency about the origin of the food they will be serving athletes, including: disclosing the primary supplier of the food that they will serve to athletes and whether those companies have had problems with contaminated food; whether the food will come from a "cook and chill" facility or will be cooked and served on-site; and to make the steps they are taking to ensure food safety easily available to the public.

Sure, Sodexo should be able to answer any questions about the origins of its food and safety measures taken, just like the union should clearly state its concerns which seem based on employment rather than microbial food safety.

Britain’s Rimmer qualified for 800m despite food poisoning at Olympics

The Press Association reports that Michael Rimmer overcame a bout of food poisoning to book his place in the semi-finals of the 800 metres at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Rimmer said,

"I felt quite rough. I think it was a mix between the food poisoning and nerves. I am over it but I felt a little flat out there. The thought of going out in a heat is horrible. I want to feel the plane ticket was worth the money and show I am worthy of being here."

U.S. Olympians will bring food to China

Olympic food has come a long way since the little chocolate donuts favored by John Belushi.

The N.Y. Times reports that in preparing to take a delegation of more than 600 athletes to the Summer Games in Beijing this year, the United States Olympic Committee faces numerous food issues. In recent years, some foods in China have been found to be tainted with insecticides and illegal veterinary drugs, and the standards applied to meat there are lower than those in the United States, raising fears of food-borne illnesses.

USOC has made arrangements with sponsors like Kellogg’s and Tyson Foods, which will ship 25,000 pounds of lean protein to China about two months before the opening ceremony, but will hire local vendors and importers to secure other foods and cooking equipment at the Games.

Why? Frank Puleo, a caterer from Staten Island who has traveled to China to handle food-related issues, went to a supermarket in China last year, and encountered a piece of chicken — half of a breast — that measured 14 inches.

"Enough to feed a family of eight. We had it tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes. They all would have tested positive.”

The protein from Tyson is one of the few food products that will be shipped from the United States. Kellogg’s has been asked to supply cereals like Frosted Flakes and Mini-Wheats, as well as Nutri-Grain bars, because those products are not readily available in China.

Frosted Flakes and little chocolate donuts. Breakfast of champions.