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The Science

By on February 12, 2016

The Science

Unexplained Illness

The Science : If you have suffered with an illness on your holiday; we want to hear from you, even if you believe you do not have sufficient evidence to support your claim. A large proportion of people we speak to and process claims for have had an unconfirmed bacterial infection, yet they still suffered symptoms, either one or more, such as diarrhoea, vomiting and sickness stomach cramps, headaches, loss of appetite and more on their holiday. As such, people who make enquiries are under the impression that they are unable to make a claim due to a lack of concrete evidence. This can be due to several reasons. Many simply just get on with their holiday best they can, and often too busy to visit their GP on return to the UK or feel they are just not sick enough to visit the doctor. Some are unable to locate their booking documents, some no longer have the pill-packets from the medications they bought and almost everyone we speak to feel that the fact they didn’t report the incident to the hotel our tour rep or tour operator at the time will go against them. None of these are strictly essential in getting your claim underway. Such cases are dealt with on the balance-of-probabilities; we consider the amount of evidence you have along with details of the illness you have suffered against the number of reported illnesses from that resort and even that hotel. If we have had previous reports of similar illnesses by other holiday makers and same hotel guests, there is a high probability that we can pursue your claim. We often hear reports of negative stool samples, but don’t be alarmed – this is a common occurrence and can be due to several factors, such as:

  • The antibiotics prescribed abroad were effective in eradicating the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, resulting in a negative stool sample;
  • Your GP back home sent a limited-range stool sample, testing for only a minor proportion of the potential infective bacteria/parasite. This would result in a negative result unless further strain analysis was completed.
  • Your GP back home recommended allowing time for the infection to resolve by itself. By the time a sample was submitted the bacteria had been beaten by your natural immune system, again resulting in a negative sample.
  • The Claimant was unable to visit their GP for a prolonged period of time due to other commitments.

We commonly hear from teachers, carers, police officers and shift workers who have been unable to visit their GP surgery upon returning to the UK because of their working hours; this will always be taken into consideration when making a claim. In most instances our service is fully remote, after you have spoken to a solicitor they will email you a No Win No Fee agreement which you sign electronically and the solicitor can then start work on your case. No appointments to attend. No medicals to attend. Your solicitor will deal with the matter on your behalf and keep you updated by post or email.

Food Borne Illness

No.1 cause of Holiday Sickness

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. There are many forms of food poisoning ranging from mild stomach problems to potentially life threatening illness. It is very important to take steps to prevent this illness whilst on holiday. This includes avoiding food that has been:

  •  Not cooked thoroughly
  •  Re-heated incorrectly
  •  Not prepared hygienically
  •  Not stored at the correct temperature
  •  Left open to pests such as insects, birds and vermin

 

The symptoms of food poisoning often begin a couple of days after eating contaminated food; however they can also begin hours or even weeks later.

Symptoms can include:

If you have experienced any of these symptoms whilst on an all-inclusive holiday, you should first of all drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and get plenty of rest. Oral rehydration solutions are usually available from local pharmacies. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, fizzy drinks and spicy or fatty foods is important as these will only increase your discomfort.

Norovirus

This viral infection can result in serious illness and is commonly associated with cruise liners. The virus is known to spread rapidly throughout closed environments like cruise liners, resulting in some debilitating symptoms for their passengers. Norovirus can be passed on directly from person-to-person and can survive on surfaces that have been contaminated. Sewage-contaminated water is also a common source of this virus. Others sources can include raw shellfish, raw vegetables and salads. It is commonly spread person-to-person orally or through faecal matter.

Cause of Illness:

The spread of the Norovirus is largely down to poor hygiene. For example, food handlers that have failed to wash their hands adequately will contaminate food products, which are then consumed by others resulting in illness. Surfaces that are not cleaned regularly or effectively can harbour the virus, which is easily contracted by the next person to touch it.

Symptoms of the Norovirus can include:

Less common symptoms of the Norovirus can include:

Onset of Illness: 12 – 48 hours from contamination.

Duration of Illness: 24 – 48 hours (rarely longer).

Parasites

Parasites are organisms that extract nourishment and protection from other living organisms. They can range in size from tiny, single-celled organisms to worms that can be seen by the naked eye. Parasites are living things that use other living things – like your body – for food and a place to live. You can get them from contaminated food or water, a bug bite, or sexual contact. Some parasitic diseases are easily treated and some are not. Parasites range in size from tiny, one-celled organisms called protozoa to worms that can be seen with the naked eye. Contaminated water supplies can lead to bacterial infections such as giardia. Cats can transmit toxoplasmosis, which is dangerous for pregnant women. Others, like malaria, are common in some parts of the world. If you are travelling, it’s important to drink only water you know is safe. Prevention is especially important. There are no vaccines for parasitic diseases. Some medicines are available to treat parasitic infections. Holiday Sickness Claims recommends you follow these guidelines to avoid illness whilst on holiday:

  •  Use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.
  • Frequently use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Avoid Ice as it may have been made from tap water
  • Avoid street food
  • Avoid salads and any uncooked fruits and vegetables (these may have been handled unhygienically)

advised that you take rehydration salts with you on your trip along with some other essentials such as Cipro (fights bacteria in the body) Imodium (treats the symptoms of Diarrhoea) and a thermometer to measure your temperature.

Botulism

Suffering from Botulism (Clostridium Botulinum) is very uncomfortable; it is often characterized by a tingling in the fingers and blurred vision, leading to difficulty breathing. Although it is a rare condition, it can be potentially life threatening. Botulism can occur from coming into contact with contaminated canned, tinned or bottled food products as well as stagnant soil or mud. The illness can typically begin 12-36 hours after you have eaten contaminated food and can last for 7-10 days. However, in rare cases, the illness has been known to last months and even years Clostridium botulinum has in the present day been remanufactured to produce Botox, which paralyses the nerve endings and when ingested can have the same effect on the body. Paralysis often starts with the eyes and face before moving to the throat, chest and extremities.

Cause of Illness: A heat-resistant exotoxin produced by the bacteria as they multiply and grow.

Symptoms of Botulism can include:

To avoid the risk of contracting Botulism it is important to follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid foods not cooked thoroughly and/or re-heated incorrectly.
  • Avoid foods not prepared hygienically.
  • Avoid food not stored at the correct temperature.
  • Avoid salads and any uncooked fruits and vegetables (these may have been handled unhygienically)
  • Wash hands before and after meal times and after using toilets and washrooms.
  • Frequently use an alcohol-based hand gel.

Source: Although the bacteria itself is not harmful, it can produce highly poisonous toxins when deprived of oxygen. Examples include contamination of canned, tinned or bottled food products as well as stagnant soil or mud.

Typical Onset period: 12-36 hours after eating contaminated food.

Typical Duration: 1-10 days (symptoms can last months or even years in rare cases).

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is form of food poisoning that is one of the most common forms of holiday illness reported by all-inclusive holidaymakers. Campylobacter is caused by food and drink being prepared in an unhygienic manner and is mostly spread by food being left to cool in environments such as Hotel buffet areas. Campylobacter can incubate for between 2 and 10 days after the contaminated food has been eaten. During or after this time the following symptoms can occur:

Campylobacter is form of food poisoning that is one of the most common forms of holiday illness reported by all-inclusive holidaymakers. Campylobacter is caused by food and drink being prepared in an unhygienic manner and is mostly spread by food being left to cool in environments such as Hotel buffet areas. Campylobacter can incubate for between 2 and 10 days after the contaminated food has been eaten. During or after this time the following symptoms can occur:

  • Avoid foods not cooked thoroughly and/or re-heated incorrectly.
  • Avoid foods not prepared hygienically.
  • Avoid food not stored at the correct temperature.
  • Avoid salads and any uncooked fruits and vegetables (these may have been handled unhygienically)
  • Wash hands before and after meal times and after using toilets and washrooms.
  • Frequently use an alcohol-based hand gel.

E. coli

Campylobacter is form of food poisoning that is one of the most common forms of holiday illness reported by all-inclusive holidaymakers. Campylobacter is caused by food and drink being prepared in an unhygienic manner and is mostly spread by food being left to cool in environments such as Hotel buffet areas. Campylobacter can incubate for between 2 and 10 days after the contaminated food has been eaten. During or after this time the following symptoms can occur:

Cause of Illness:

E. coli can be found in water supplies that have not been properly treated or can come as a result of cross- contamination with cooked and uncooked meats.

Common Symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea (often with blood)
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

Less Common Symptoms:

  • Haemorrhagic diarrhoea (a severe loss of blood)
  • Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (in which the red blood cells are destroyed, resulting in kidney
    failure).

Source: Undercooked ground beef, unpasteurised milk, raw fruits and vegetables.

Onset of illness: 1 – 10 days after contamination.

Duration of illness: Some E. coli bacteria are harmless, whereas others can result in long-term disabilities.

In most cases however, E. coli symptoms last from 5 – 30 days.

Typhoid

Typhoid fever is a form of food poisoning caused by ingesting contaminated food or drink. Typhoid can spread across the body infecting many organs and, without proper treatment, can be fatal. Typhoid fever can be spread by people who do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, and then touching food. In some holiday destinations, poor levels of sanitation result in infected waste contaminating the water supply. Holidaymakers then drinking the contaminated water can develop Typhoid Fever. Symptoms of Typhoid Fever include:

  • A high temperature
  • Headache
  • Sickness
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of appetite
  • A rash of small pink spots
  • Confusion
  • Stomach Pains

1 in 20 people who survive Typhoid fever without seeking medical treatment will become carriers of the infection. The bacteria will remain in the carrier’s body without any noticeable symptoms and can be spread as normal. It is very important to seek medical advice if any of the above symptoms are experienced as the bacteria can spread causing damage to organs and tissue, resulting in serious complications such as internal bleeding. The main preventions of Typhoid Fever include:

  • Washing your hands frequently, especially after using the toilet or eating and preparing food. Always
    carry an alcohol based hand sanitiser.
  •  Use only bottled water to drink and brush your teeth. Avoid Ice as it will probably have been
    prepared using tap water.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables that may have been prepared with unsafe water or handled
    unhygienically.
  • Avoid foods stored and served at room temperature and avoid street foods.

Amoebic Dysentery

Amoebic dysentery is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Amoebae can exist in two forms; the first as free amoebae known as trophozoites, which are relatively harmless and the other being cysts, which are known to be highly infective. The cysts are particularly resistant to the acid content in the stomach. Therefore, once ingested they move through the digestive system taking residence in the intestine causing infection. They can be found in human or animal faeces and are easily spread through poor sanitation or hygiene. Amoebic Dysentery can be caused by careless or negligent hygiene, as well as through contaminated food and drink consumed without adequate heat treatment. Another common cause can be salads being washed in contaminated tap water. Once again, we see this more frequently where clients have complained about the strong smell of sewage around the hotel. This is often due to untreated sewage waste being used to fertilise the hotel greenery. This process of recycling waste water may save money for the hotel, but in turn results in a huge increase in the reports of sickness, diarrhoea and reported outbreaks of Amoebic dysentery.

Common symptoms of Amoebic Dysentery can be:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Painful passing of stool
  • Diarrhoea containing blood
  • Nausea

Less common symptoms can include:

  • Formation of cysts on the liver and other organs
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

Onset of illness: 1 – 7 days after contamination

Duration of illness: From a few days to a few weeks, but left untreated the parasite can reside in the gut for years.

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