Christmas Is Nearly Here Along With The Norovirus And Other Holiday Illnesses


The Law Of... receiving compensation for a Christmas holiday gone wrong

The festive season is nearly upon us, and while some of us will battle through the cold, wet, dreary weather in the UK, there are many Britons who choose to escape the UK and enjoy their Christmas somewhere warm. Many hotel restaurants offer Christmas gala dinners so you don't have to miss out on that all-important serving of whatever Christmas bird you prefer, but unfortunately, there's still a risk of holiday illness at this festive time of year.

You can escape the cold on a Christmas holiday, but you might not escape the Norovirus

Claim For Holiday Illness All Year Round

Our travel law specialists help holidaymakers to claim compensation when their holiday has been ruined by illness, regardless of the time of year that they travel. We often help people who have suffered the symptoms of Gastroenteritis, whether their condition was caused by a bacterial or parasitic infection, but Gastroenteritis can also be caused by a viral infection, and at this time of year the Norovirus becomes more and more prevalent.

In this article, we're going to look at the differences between these types of infection and what you can do if your Christmas holiday abroad is ruined by illness.

What Is Gastroenteritis Anyway?

If Gastroenteritis was a Christmas present, it would be a lump of coal, because if you suffer a bout of Gastroenteritis; you'll be left wondering what you did to deserve it. Gastroenteritis is a broad term that describes the symptoms of gastric illnesses such as Salmonella or E. coli O157, making it a condition rather than a disease, and the devastating symptoms of this condition can take weeks or longer to fully recover from.

What Is The Norovirus?

Norovirus is a viral infection also known as the "winter vomiting bug" because, unsurprisingly, it mainly affects people in the winter. Like the common cold (rhinovirus) there's no precise reasoning for why the Norovirus is more common in the winter, and unfortunately, it appears that escaping to a warmer climate is no guarantee that you'll escape infection.

Once you've contracted the Norovirus you can expect to suffer from symptoms such as an intense and sudden feeling of nausea, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea, along with less common symptoms such as fever, headaches, abdominal pain and sore limbs.

There's no cure for the Norovirus, so once it begins you just have to ride it out and ensure that you replace lost fluids with water, potentially taking paracetamol for the pain if you're able to keep it down.

What Can Hotels Do To Prevent The Spread Of Holiday Illness?

As a viral pathogen, the Norovirus needs people to survive and to spread, meaning that cleanliness is the most effective method of stopping it from spreading. This can be achieved through ensuring that people who are affected limit their contact with other guests and practice regular hand washing, that areas they have been are cleaned and any sheets they have slept on are thoroughly cleaned through a hot wash to kill any remnants of the virus.

It's also important to ensure that members of staff that prepare food are healthy and hygienic, as it's very easy for them to spread contagious illnesses such as Norovirus and other bacterial and parasitic infections through the food that they prepare.

How Is Norovirus Different From Salmonella Or Cryptosporidium?

Like the Norovirus, Gastroenteritis causing bacteria and parasites can easily be spread through unsafely prepared food. Often a bacterial infection will exhibit similar symptoms to the winter vomiting bug; however, there's usually a distinct difference, in that bacterial infections such as Campylobacter tend to result in severe diarrhoea and fewer problems with vomiting.

The main difference between viral food poisoning and bacterial or parasitic food poisoning is that it can be much easier to spot the cause of a bacterium or parasite. These types of holiday illnesses are usually caused by undercooked meals, recycled food, and allowing buffet dishes to reach unsafe temperatures, things which are easy to spot and potentially record if you decide to make a compensation claim.

Viruses can be very stealthy as there aren't any obvious signs that you're about to be infected, meaning that you won't know you are until it's too late.

Make Sure That You Get A Diagnosis

While you might be educated or qualified enough to come up with your own self-diagnosis, the most recommendable course of action is to visit a doctor, whether while still at your resort or back home in the UK. By asking them to carry out tests on your stool you can confirm or eliminate the possibility that your Christmas illness has been caused by a bacteria or parasite, potentially making identifying a virus a bit easier.

It's important that you try to get a diagnosis as soon as you can. Some pathogens won't stay in your body for long, and if you're given antibiotics for bacterial Gastroenteritis, it can become impossible to make a positive diagnosis.

Can I Still Claim Holiday Compensation At Christmas?

Whether you go on holiday in the summer or escape the madness at home over Christmas, if you suffer a holiday illness on an all-inclusive package holiday, you have the right to claim compensation for your ruined break abroad.

We rarely handle cases of Norovirus as it's often impossible to pinpoint the cause of illness due to the nature of how it is spread. The majority of holiday compensation claims that we handle make use of The Package Travel Regulations 1992, which say that under your contract with your tour operator, they are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure you and your family are safe while abroad.

In the event that you suffer from food poisoning that was caused, for example, by chicken not being cooked thoroughly enough, the blame can be placed on your tour operator as they are responsible for the standards present in the kitchen of your all-inclusive hotel, provided the meal was part of the package holiday that you originally paid for in Britain.

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