Salmonella is a potentially serious bacterial infection that more travelers are contracting as a result of poor hygiene and food preparation at holiday hotels.
Salmonella bacteria exist naturally in soil, the gut of animals, water, on the beaks of birds and the skins of reptile like lizards and snakes. However, when cross-infection occurs – usually as a result of undercooked meat or poultry – a serious gastrointestinal infection can take hold.
The main symptoms of salmonella food poisoning are:
- Stomach cramps,
- Sickness and diarrhoea – often in violent episodes,
Symptoms of salmonella can last for a week and then disappear, only to re-appear weeks later. Eventually, if untreated, irritable bowel syndrome may develop, involving stomach pain, mucus-covered stools and sensitivity to certain foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, or “pellet” foods like seeds and grains, peanuts, sweetcorn or fruit and vegetables with pips (e.g. tomatoes), which the gut processes quickly.
A visit to a GP is essential if you are ill with severe sickness and diarrhea on holiday, but try and avoid salmonella altogether by following our 10 useful tips:
- Wash hands as much as possible, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
- Do not use dirty public facilities– report unsanitary conditions to your tour rep or hotel management.
- Don’t eat undercooked chicken, meat, fish, egg and dairy products – or any hot food which has gone cool. Be especially careful of buffet foods that are not being properly heated.
- Don’t use utensils with food residue– find a clean one.
- Don’t handle food on the buffet with your hands – and report any staff who handle food without using disposable gloves or without washing hands.
- Home-made ice cream may be made with unpasteurised milk – stick to branded, wrapped products if you’re unsure about the contents.
- Drinking coffee and tea made with contaminated milk can lead to a salmonella infection – only drink coffee made with hot milk, use sealed, individual milk portions for tea and coffee and be wary of milk in jugs.
- Only drink water from sealed bottles – drinking supplies can become contaminated with salmonella – and avoid ice cubes on holiday.
- Don’t eat from street vendors or open air buffets left open to birds, insects or lizards, which can contaminate food.
- Don’t use the hotel swimming pool if you are ill or there is an outbreak of illness at your hotel – always shower before and after using the hotel swimming pool.
Salmonella spreads quickly between people – be scrupulously clean if other travelers or a family member become ill on holiday; and see a doctor if the symptoms are violent, last for more than 24 hours without getting better, or there is a widespread outbreak of illness at your hotel.
If your holiday is ruined by salmonella illness, contact your GP on return to make sure that you get the right treatment to clear the infection – and then contact a reputable holiday claims solicitor to make a claim for compensation.
Contracting Salmonella abroad can have crippling effects. It can not only ruin your holiday but be very damaging to your long-term health.