£10,000 Compensation for Holiday Sickness in Egypt

Author:
Nick Harris
Head of Travel Law & Holiday Claims
Date:
13/09/2019

A Holiday Sickness Case Study – Client Situation

Our client went on holiday with his wife and 3-year-old son to the Holiday Village Red Sea in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, but fell ill due to poor food hygiene.

He had been diagnosed with a mild form of ulcerative colitis several months earlier, but by the time of his holiday he had the symptoms under control. The family didn’t leave the hotel complex at all during the holiday and only ate and drank on-site, which offered one main buffet restaurant, a Mediterranean restaurant and a barbecue area next to the beach at lunchtime.

In the final few days of their holiday, our client fell ill, suffering with stomach cramps while sat on a sun lounger at the side of the pool. He tried to carry on as normal but the cramps got progressively worse. The following day, the stomach cramps continued and he was in some pain, and he also began suffering with diarrhoea.

His wife tried to find a TUI rep but there was nobody in the office at the hotel. Reception staff therefore told him to go to an on-site clinic, where a number of other hotel guests were also complaining of sickness. After being assessed, our client was put on a drip, told by the clinic doctor that he had gastroenteritis and given a general antibiotic.

While the medication eased his symptoms slightly, he continued suffering from stomach cramps and diarrhoea. This meant he spent the last few days of his holiday unable to go swimming or enjoy time with his family. He was also in pain, had lost his appetite and often needed to rush to the toilet.

After returning to the UK, he tried to continue with his work, which often involved staying away from home, and self-medicated. However, he struggled to sleep due to the continuing stomach cramps and diarrhoea. After discovering blood in his diarrhoea, he knew that his Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) had been triggered.

He returned home and saw his GP, who believed he wasn’t suffering from gastroenteritis and instead had food poisoning, which had triggered his IBS. His symptoms continued to deteriorate while convalescing at home over the following week, and on one night, the pain was so intense that his wife called an ambulance.

The hospital took a stool sample, which tested positive for a bacteria called Aeromonas hydrophila, and he was found to have a more severe colitis than he had previously been suffering prior to the holiday.

The recommended course of treatment would involve regular visits to the hospital for the next 4 years. Although there was only an 80% chance this treatment would succeed, he agreed to this option, as the alternative was bowel surgery.

Following the first round of treatment, he spent the next few weeks resting at home and continuing to suffer from painful stomach cramps, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. The second round of treatment did help to ease his symptoms, but even though the diarrhoea stopped, he struggled to get his appetite back. It was about 2 to 3 months after the sickness before his appetite started to return fully, but even then he was worried about the type of food he ate, so shied away from any fruit and veg with the skin on and food that was high in fibre.

The sickness led to him losing about 5kg in weight, which he gradually regained over time, and it was about 6 months after the holiday sickness started that he felt his energy levels were back to normal.

He continued undergoing treatment for four years after the holiday, but still has to take daily medication. If his ulcerative colitis flares up again, he may be given a different drug or have to undergo surgery. Also, the medication he is taking could make him more susceptible to skin cancer and liver damage.

How We Helped

Our client blamed TUI UK for his holiday sickness, citing a host of failings with the standard of food hygiene at the Holiday Village Red Sea, and he contacted our Holiday Claims Solicitors for help with claiming compensation.

Among the issues he raised were:

      • Food being exposed for long periods
      • Cooked food being lukewarm
      • Birds and insects around food and fridges
      • No steps taken to prevent or deter birds and insects from getting on the food
      • Freezers being seen outside in the open behind restaurants
      • Hotel staff topping up existing food in the buffet area without removing or replacing the older food
        Serving utensils used for different dishes in the buffet area, hence they were cross contaminated
      • Not all restaurant staff wearing gloves or hairnets in the buffet restaurant or any other food service facilities
        Restaurant staff and chefs smoking behind the hotel’s restaurants while the back doors were open

We arranged a medical report for our client, which confirmed that the Aeromonas Hydrophila led to acute infective gastroenteritis, which in turn caused the colitis to flare up. A further medical report concluded that his ulcerative colitis didn’t put him at an increased risk of infection. However, an infection such as Aeromonas Hydrophila would put him at an increased risk of a relapse of colitis.

Our Holiday Claims Solicitors approached TUI with details of our client’s condition and the likely causes, as well as information on how his holiday sickness had affected his life. For instance, his condition meant he was:

        • Unable to work for an extended period of time and relying on savings
        • Suffering from stress as a result of being unable to bring in an income
        • Dependent on his wife to drive him to hospital appointments
        • Reliant on help from his wife and mother-in-law to look after his child

Our client also became:

          • Anxious about leaving the house in case the diarrhoea started
          • Unable to enjoy hobbies such as going to the gym and cycling for several months
          • Unable to socialise with friends and family because of his pain, lack of energy and diarrhoea
          • Lacking in confidence and not wanting to see people, even after the symptoms had ended
          • Unable to exercise every day, despite needing to be physically strong and fit for his job

The Outcome

TUI offered to pay £10,000 in compensation, which was accepted by our client.

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