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First Choice in court over gastric illness at Holiday Village in Turkey

A group of more than 100 holidaymakers struck down with gastroenteritis while staying at the Holiday Village resort at Sarigerme in Turkey are taking tour operator First Choice to the High Court to claim damages for their illness.

The families involved in the action were all fit and healthy before arriving at the Holiday Village, but soon fell ill with bacterial and parasitic infections like salmonella and cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidium is a parasitic infection usually contracted from water in swimming pools as a result of contamination with faeces.

Many of those who fell ill on holiday were children, said the group’s solicitor Nick Harris, who is a head of the travel department at leading holiday claims solicitors, Simpson Millar.

Mr Harris said that he was surprised First Choice had opted to challenge the claim in court – in 2010 and 2011 groups of holidaymakers represented by Simpson Millar received out-of-court settlements for gastrointestinal holiday illnesses contracted while staying at the Holiday Village resort.

The Holiday Village at Sarigerme was also previously featured on BBC TV’s Watchdog programme, after which the resort was split into two separate holiday complexes.

“The general consensus is that the Holiday Village in Turkey was too big and consequently it was impossible for reasonable hygiene practices to be sustained throughout the summer, when the resort was accommodating up to 4,000 guests, “ said Mr Harris.

The Holiday Village in Sarigerme continues to be operated by First Choice holidays, while Thomson/TUI holidays now operates the Hotel Tropical – formerly part of the Holiday Village resort.

Simpson Millar is one of the most successful firms of holiday claims solicitors – its holiday claims department recently won compensation for a group of 105 holidaymakers struck down with gastroenteritis at the Coral Sea Holiday Village in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The company has also won claims against First Choice holidays previously, including compensation for cases of Legionnaire’s disease at the Holiday Village on the Greek island of Rhodes.

holiday hotel watch

Nick Harris previously worked for tour operators defending claims and says holiday illnesses like salmonella and E.coli are entirely preventable.

Simple measures reduce food poisoning abroad – too often we hear accounts of wild birds contaminating dining areas, food being served lukewarm, or food being re-used or reheated.

“It is simply unacceptable and increases the risk of bacterial contamination ten-fold – especially in countries where there is a warm climate that a bacterium such as Salmonella thrives upon.

“Of the people I am representing, more than half are children – of whom some are still suffering symptoms stemming back to their time at the Holiday Village Turkey in Sarigerme,” he added.

“It is disappointing that First Choice decided to deny any responsibility for the episode that has led to this action."

Holiday claims are now becoming more common for illnesses like salmonella and other bacterial infections. The symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea and stomach cramps can recur and severe bouts of gastric holiday illness can lead to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.

Children, elderly holidaymakers and those with lowered immune responses can be particularly affected by a bout of holiday gastroenteritis.

Dated: 27/06/2012

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