Guide to Salmonella on Holiday and Compensation Claims

You may have saved long and hard for your trip abroad and when it comes time for your well-earned holiday, the last thing you want to do is spend it in your hotel room feeling unwell because the hygiene and food safety at your resort was below par.

Salmonella is one of the most commonly occurring gastric illnesses abroad, and in this guide we’re going to explain the dangers of this bacterial infection, how to avoid a ruined holiday, and what to do if you come down with symptoms, including advice on making a claim.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a harmful bacterium that has adverse effects on your digestive system. Collectively the different species are known as Salmonellosis, with the 2 most common species that affect holidaymakers being S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium.

The route of infection for this bacterium is usually oral through the consumption of contaminated food or contact with something or someone who is infected. Many species of Salmonellosis are capable of living in the intestines of carriers and infection can also be carried by faeces, on clothes, utensils, and on eggshells.


While some of these symptoms are more common in sufferers of Salmonella than others, if you experience any combination of the following it’s advisable to get a proper diagnosis:

  • Blood in stool
  • Enteric fever (typhoid)
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Profuse diarrhoea
  • Rash
  • Septicaemia
  • Vomiting


It usually takes Salmonella between 6 to 72 hours to incubate, with symptoms usually lasting for anywhere between a few days and several weeks, although some children under the age of 5 can carry the bacteria for 12 months after symptoms emerge.

Long-Term Health Problems

A bacterial infection can lead to lasting health complications long after your symptoms have improved, making it vital to receive diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can occur following a Salmonella infection and in many sufferers’ on-going symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhoea and nausea can be experienced and are often triggered just by consuming certain types of food.
  • Reiter's Syndrome, which is now commonly referred to as Reactive Arthritis, can also follow a bout of Salmonella and results in stiff and painful joints, pain when urinating, and eye pain.

What Causes Infection to Spread

Salmonella infections abroad are often contracted by tourists who make the following mistakes:

  • Eating contaminated or undercooked hotel food like raw chicken, beef, and eggs
  • Eating meals made with unpasteurised milk and eggs
  • Hand-to-mouth contamination from contact with infected people
  • Cross-contamination from touching infected surfaces (oral-faecal route)

What You Can Do to Stay Safe

The following steps can help you to avoid a potential Salmonella infection:

  • Take care when choosing food from the buffet and ensure that fish, chicken, beef, and other meat dishes have been cooked thoroughly.
  • Avoid food that has been contaminated by insects or wild birds, as they often feed on raw sewage.
  • Wash your hands before eating, after visiting the toilet, and especially after changing nappies.

What Your Hotel Should be doing

The risk of a Salmonella outbreak can be reduced if food handlers at resorts and restaurants follow basic health and safety procedures such as HACCP, but at the very least your tour operator should ensure that the food handlers at your resort have been educated on the importance of hand washing before, during and after, food preparation.

They should also ensure that cooked and raw produce are kept separate to reduce the risk of cross contamination.

Countries at Risk

While a Salmonella outbreak can happen anywhere, we find that holiday makers returning from the following destinations are more likely to contract this harmful bacterium:

Holiday Hotel Watch

We monitor hotels around the world for outbreaks of illness such as those caused by salmonella, so if you want to know about a hotel before you travel abroad, check out our Holiday hotel Watch website.

What to Do if You Get Sick

If you suffer the symptoms of a salmonella infection you should report it immediately to your holiday representative and insist on seeing an independent doctor. Do not accept any insinuations that you have simply picked up a mysterious airborne virus and receive a professional medical diagnosis and treatment. Doing so may salvage the remainder of your holiday.

If your illness has been cause by the neglect of your tour operator or any of the third party suppliers such as those at your hotel or on your airplane, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Why You Can Claim

You are able to claim compensation for your Salmonella infection on your package holiday due to The Package Travel Regulations 1992 which place the responsibility of the safety of you and your family at every stage of the holiday that was sold to you on your tour operator. This includes every aspect of your holiday that was sold to you for a single price, such as elements that are offered by third party suppliers, potentially including the airline you flew with, the hotel you stayed at and resort restaurants you ate at.

Advice on Tour Operator Complaints

If you complain to your tour operator after suffering from Salmonella, you might find that you don’t receive the same level of service that you did when making your booking. We have been approached by many holiday makers who became frustrated by excuses and unexplained delays, together with attempts to under settle your compensation claim, often for vouchers rather than money.

Your tour operator might insist that you prove that your illness was caused by the food that you ate or the unsanitary conditions at your resort, but don’t be put off. If you stayed at an all-inclusive resort and are adamant that you did not eat outside the hotel complex for at least 72 hours prior to the onset of your symptoms, your illness claim should be straightforward.

Successful Cases

The following case studies are for successful claims against negligent tour operators made our clients who suffered from Salmonella while on a package holiday:

Receive Specialist Legal Advice

Our travel law specialists can provide you with free no-obligation legal advice on the value of your claim within minutes. Your tour operator may try to put you off from pursuing the true value of your compensation claim, but at Simpson Millar, we will strive to obtain the compensation that you are entitled to.

We aim to recover damages for both the acute phase and recovery period of your holiday illness, and as we operate on a ‘no win no fee’ basis you can rest assured that we’ll do all we can to win your compensation, as we only receive payment once we’re successful.

Why Choose Simpson Millar?

Our travel law specialists are well versed in the ever changing world of travel law and are prepared for the counter arguments that your tour operator might make. We will keep you informed of the progress of your claim at every step of the claim process, keeping you advised in plain, jargon free English.

Do not put up with the hygiene failings of your tour operator or their hotel supplier, make a claim today.

Find out More

If you would like to find out more about making a claim following a Salmonella infection on your package holiday, then please don’t hesitate to act us by completing our online enquiry form or by calling us directly on 0808 145 1353.

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Nick Harris - Head of International Travel Law - Manchester

Nick Harris
Head of Holiday Travel Claims (Consumer)

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