30th July 2014 Stay safe this summer: Beware of holiday illness!

You have saved up all year and finally arrive in your holiday destination of choice. You may have splashed out on that luxury all-inclusive hotel you have always dreamed of; expecting amazing facilities and a mind-boggling array of cuisine. However, a few days into the holiday you start to feel unwell. Many shrug this off as simply "Delhi belly" or "Travellers' diarrhoea". But beware; it may just be a lot more serious!

Food poisoning can be contracted in even the most reputable hotel, and a case of the "Delhi belly" could turn out to be a lot worse. The effects of a bout of food poisoning could last for a few days, or the rest of your life. Even mild cases can be extremely unpleasant with the most common symptoms consisting of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. However, extra care should be taken if more severe symptoms present themselves, such as vomiting or diarrhoea lasting for days, blood in your vomit or stool, and things like blurred vision and seizures. Some people are also more vulnerable to infection, such as those over 65 years of age, pregnant ladies or those who have a weakened immune system.

Food poisoning can be caused by well known bacteria such as salmonella. This is most often confirmed following a positive stool sample test. A case of salmonella is not usually serious and is commonly treated with plenty of fluids and "safe food", with medication if necessary. However, a simple salmonella infection can lead to a much more serious illness - such as typhoid fever. Typhoid is a life-threatening illness that requires quick antibiotic treatment. It is also highly contagious - so a break-out at a hotel could be very dangerous.

An episode of food poisoning can also lead to irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is a condition of the digestive system that is caused by increased sensitivity to the entire gut. There is no cure for IBS and it is usually managed by changes to your diet and lifestyle. This is sometimes complimented with medication to help control the symptoms.

As an extreme example, you could contract an illness such as cholera whilst on holiday. Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by drinking contaminated water or eating food which has been in contact with contaminated water. It is most common in areas of the world with poor sanitation, but holiday makers in such regions are also at risk. Cholera can cause sudden dehydration and shock, and can be fatal in the most severe situations.

This information may shock you - but it does happen and it could happen to you. If you have suffered food poisoning or any of the other related conditions highlighted above whilst on an all-inclusive package holiday, feel free to contact our Food Poisoning team for further legal advice.

Author profile

Gemma Stanley, LL.B (Hons)

Paralegal, Industrial Disease Department

Gemma joined Woodward Solicitors in July 2013 and has enjoyed working mainly on holiday illness claims.