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Shigella Illness Bug - Egypt - Hotel Hygiene Improvements Demanded!

Shigellosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Shigella Sonnei germ. It affects the gastro-intestinal tract (gut) and is a fairly common disease picked up by UK holidaymakers staying in all inclusive hotels in Egypt. It is particularly prevalent in warm climates in communal settings, occurring as single cases or large outbreaks.

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Holidaymakers travelling to Egypt who are exposed to the Shigella germ may experience mild or severe diarrhoea, often with fever and traces of blood or mucous in the stool. Some infected travellers may not show any symptoms which generally appear 1 to 7 days after exposure.

Simpson Millar’s Holiday Illness Claims Manager, Simon Lomax, says:

"In recent years, infectious diseases have been common amongst holidaymakers returning from Egypt. Whilst a number of serious holiday illnesses have been controlled by improvements imposed by UK holiday companies, such as First Choice and Thomson, Simpson Millar Solicitors are still receiving regular calls for legal advice and assistance."

"Early recognition of a shigella outbreak by tour operators is necessary to implement effective control methods. Immediate advice and assistance on the control of outbreaks of shigella in hotels in Egypt should be obtained from the local health protection agency. A review of hygiene practices should be undertaken and all hoteliers must be given specific advice with regard to the control measures required. Tour Representatives should document all new cases and if suspected or confirmed, control measures initiated."

Shigella is spread to holidaymakers by direct person to person contact or from indirect personal contact; the four most frequent causes of gastric illness from those returning from Egypt ill are listed below. Of these, direct personal contact, particularly hand contamination, is the most important because it is often the link between the different modes of spread.

  • Direct personal contact – contract with contaminated body secretions or excretions, particular via hands from food handlers is a common cause of spread of illness to holidaymakers staying at hotels in Egypt;
  • Faecal contamination of food and water can act as vehicles for the spread of shigella infection;
  • Flies, cockroaches and mosquitoes spread infection which is spread on their feet as they move from feed to feed – in Egypt flies are a common problem especially if the Hotel grounds are irrigated with sewage.
  • Shigella can be transmitted to holidaymakers from animals, especially birds. Birds which are able to fly above or land on food are a particular concern, as ingestion a faeces can could serious illness.

Simon continues to say:

"Most travellers returning from Egypt with shigella infection will recover on their own provided they drink sufficient fluids to prevent dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, drowsiness, rapid breathing, sunken eyes, or passing small amount of urine."

"Antibiotics are very occasionally used to treat severe cases or to shorten the carrier phase which may be important for food handlers, but it will mask the results of stool cultures taken by UK doctors after an outbreak. Occasional admission to hospital may be required for more severely affected travellers to Egypt. If the Egyptian hotel doctors prescribes Steptoquin, Antinal or Ciprofloxacin you should suspect a bacterial illness such as Shigellosis – antibiotics do not treat airborne viruses no matter what your holiday representative tells you!"

If you would like advice or representation on a No Win No Fee basis call our friendly and experienced team in complete confidence on 0808 145 1353 or complete the attached enquiry form.

Dated: 01/05/2012

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