In theory, a holiday should be a time when you are feeling at your best – relaxing and having fun. Unfortunately, some holidaymakers become ill whilst away, which can often lead to expensive medical bills, long term illnesses and health problems when back home in the UK.
In 2015, over 23% of our clients who returned from holidays were diagnosed with salmonella, a serious bacterial infection, followed by 6% who were diagnosed with E.Coli and 4% who tested positive for Campylobacter.
All three bacterial infections can be caused by undercooked food and can result in symptoms including diarrhoea, sickness, fever and lethargy. These conditions can often result in long-term serious gastric health conditions potentially leading to a lifetime of suffering for those affected.
Our international personal injury experts give the following advice for anyone experiencing illness abroad:
• If you are ever in doubt about how safe the water is in the area that you are visiting, use sealed bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. With any salads and raw foods, check with the provider as to how they have been washed
• At a buffet, look out for what guests are using to serve their food, whether or not the cutlery is clean and if it is contaminated with other dishes, and if you have any allergies, always ask if there is no clear labelling present
• Before travelling to your destination, you should check if there are any preventive measures against illness such as vaccinations. These can be found on the NHS Travel Vaccination web page
• Before travelling, ensure you have travel insurance with good medical assistance cover for the whole duration of your trip. If you are holidaying within the European Economic Area (EEA), an EHIC card will help you access state healthcare in other EEA countries.
This can be obtained online or at your local Post Office for free, but you should not rely on this alone. This would not fund repatriation by air ambulance back to the UK if you were seriously injured
If you do suffer from an illness abroad:
• If you are faced with illness or other serious difficulties at your resort, it is important to report this as soon as possible to the local holiday rep or hotel staff
• Make sure you complete a written complaint form and keep a copy
• Take photographs and videos to support your complaints and swap contact details with other holidaymakers who have suffered problems
• If you seek medical help whilst abroad, make sure you get a copy of the doctor's report. It is important to research the area before travelling to find reliable medical care at your destination
• If your complaint is not addressed, you should write to the tour operator or hotel/accommodation management within 28 days of returning to the UK and seek follow up medical treatment for any illness you have suffered
• If your complaint is not satisfactorily resolved at this stage, you may wish to take legal advice from a solicitor specialising in international personal injury claims
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