MELBOURNE, Australia ● A coach and several members of the Australian women’s water polo team have been diagnosed with whooping cough while in a training camp at the elite Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, forcing swimming chiefs to cancel a pre-Games warm-up meeting.
Whooping cough, a highly contagious bacterial disease characterised by fits of violent coughing, can lead to brain damage and death in infants in severe cases, but adults generally only suffer flu-like symptoms.
The AIS said a coach and two members of the Olympic water polo team had been diagnosed with whooping cough, while an Australian Olympic Committee official said up to five of the team had taken ill.
“The water polo team is in camp at the AIS and has been placed in isolation to mitigate the risk of infection for athletes, staff and the public,” the AIS said in a statement on its website (www.ausport.gov.au) on Saturday
“All members and officials of the team have been tested.”
A spokesperson for Australian Water Polo confirmed the cases, but declined to name the athletes affected.
The outbreak prompted Swimming Australia to scrap a planned training camp for the team’s Olympic relay swimmers and a Grand Prix meeting in Canberra this weekend as a precaution.
“We have spoken with the AIS and, whilst we are comfortable with the procedures they have put in place, we have decided to take this precaution,” Olympic swimming head coach Leigh Nugent said in a statement.
“Originally we’d planned to have this camp as an opportunity to come together for some further relay preparation and the chance for some of the athletes to race and time trial, a month or so out from the Games,” said Nugent.
“From a relay perspective we are confident we’re on track with our preparations and will fine tune things when we get to Manchester in July.
“As for the racing side of things, I’m sure the individual coaches will arrange time trials if they see fit to replicate that preparation.”