Health authorities are warning holidaymakers to be wary of travelling to Mexico after 46 Brits were struck down by a bug linked to food contaminated by poo – for the fourth year running.
Guests staying at luxury resorts and hotels in the Riviera Maya resort area and Cancun in Mexico are reportedly suffering severe sickness and diarrhoea.
Last year over 78 Brits were struck down with the bug Cyclospora parasitic bug while the year before 443 Brits were hit by the bug – spread by water and food contaminated by faeces – in the same Riviera Maya and Cancun resort area.
The same bug ravaged the area in 2015 with 79 UK tourists being affected.
The latest sickness outbreak has affected guests who have mainly stayed in all inclusive hotel resorts and health authorities expect the number of victims to rise like in previous outbreaks.
The illness is likely linked to tainted food supplied to hotels throughout the resort areas and victims of the latest outbreak include a Doctor.
Guests are believed to have eaten contaminated food in their hotels and later fell ill with severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Last night Nick Harris Head of Travel at Simpson Millar solicitors – who is representing over 350 victims of past and current outbreaks – said:
"The current number of victims is just the tip of the iceberg and this is now obviously out of control again but should have been avoided. People should have been warned before travelling so that they could make an informed choice.
"This is beyond belief.
"I warned ABTA that British holidaymakers were falling ill with the bug in May when people started contacting me. But they ignored me. They should be warning people travelling to Mexico but seem to put profit before safety. Tour operators are playing Russian roulette with their customers lives. We are being contacted by many affected holidaymakers and I am genuinely concerned that someone will die before the problem is treated seriously.
"I would urge anyone who has been sick like this on holiday to contact their GP and ask for a Cyclospora test."
Victims who have returned to the UK from the resort have been very sick and after laboratory tests they have since been diagnosed with Cyclospora – a bug commonly associated with food poisoning and poor hygiene.
The sickness bug is spread by infected human faeces contaminating water or food and previous outbreaks have been connected to fresh fruit such as raspberries and salad products such as basil and lettuce.
Public Health England advice recommends UK tourists to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene, even if staying in high-end resorts in Mexico.
Symptoms include frequent, watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence, low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight and anyone who feels ill should visit their GP immediately after returning home.
Health Protection Scotland have confirmed the outbreak on their website.
They said in warning statement posted on their site: “Cases of infection with the diarrhoea causing parasite Cyclospora have continued to be reported by UK holidaymakers returning from Mexico.
"This is the fourth successive year since 2015 that cases of cyclospora infection have been reported in travellers returning from Mexico.
"46 cases of cyclospora have been reported in England, Scotland and Wales. Where information is known, cases have stayed at several different hotels in the Cancun and Riviera Maya region (mostly on an all-inclusive basis), suggesting the source is again likely to be a foodstuff that has been distributed to hotels throughout the region."
Richard Elson, Head of Risk Assessment and Response of National Infection Service at Public Health England, said: "We strongly urge people to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene when travelling to the Riviera Maya coast in Mexico and to be aware of the risk of Infection from a food and water bug, Cyclospora."
Dr Robert Smith, clinical scientist at Public Health Wales, said: "People travelling to tropical and subtropical countries are at increased risk of cyclospora infection. Infection is spread by eating or drinking food or drink contaminated with human faeces that contains cyclospora.
"To reduce your risk of catching cyclospora you should practice good food and water hygiene at all times whilst on holiday even if staying in high-end, all-inclusive resorts. This includes choosing freshly cooked, piping hot food where possible, avoiding uncooked berries or unpeeled fruit and vegetables that haven’t been washed in safe water, only drinking bottled water and avoiding ice in drinks."
A spokeswoman for Public Health England said: "Since May, we have seen cases of cyclospora reported at 15 different resorts in Mexico."
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