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Is there a problem with Salmonella in papayas from Mexico?

1st September 2017


Recent reports have indicated that papayas from Mexico may be the source of a Salmonella outbreak in the US which has resulted in a number of people being hospitalised by the harmful bacteria. We explore what happened and whether you need to be concerned as a British holidaymaker travelling to the United States or Mexico.

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Reports of poisonous papayas

News outlets such as the BBC and Fox News Health reported the incident at the beginning of August, explaining that an outbreak of Salmonella had been linked to papayas that were imported to the US from Mexico.

Fresh cut papayas

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The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also reported that Salmonella has been linked to maradol papayas that were grown and distributed from a single farm situated in Campeche, Mexico. It's at this location that the contamination is believed to have taken place.

The CDC also advised that papayas sold under brands such as Caribena, Cavi and Valery should be disposed of immediately, and as of the 9th August, the BBC reported that more than 100 people had been infected in the US, with 35 patients being hospitalised.

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How British holidaymakers could be affected

Apart from the risk that Salmonella infected papayas pose to those in the US, this issue could pose a problem to British holidaymakers travelling to Mexico. While steps have been taken to prevent contaminated Papayas from being distributed by American supermarkets, it's unclear if similar steps have been taken in Mexico, where it's possible that the contaminated fruit may still be being sold.

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Take precautions when eating fruit abroad

It's generally advisable to take additional precautions when deciding what to eat in destinations such as Mexico, where the risk of food poisoning is arguably higher due to differences in the standards imposed upon farmers, as well as differences in the hygiene standards imposed upon restaurants.

When it comes to uncooked fruits and vegetables, this is particularly pertinent. It's generally advisable to only eat fruit that you have peeled yourself to reduce the risk that it has been washed in contaminated water, but there have been instances where sticking to unpeeled fruit isn't enough to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

Diseases such as Cyclospora have been known to survive on unsuspecting food items such as the mint used in mojitos, placing a big responsibility on tour operators to ensure that the hotels they offer as part of a package holiday only source produce from safe sources.

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What to do if you contract Salmonella on holiday

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can be very hazardous to your health. Salmonellosis can cause symptoms that include bloody stools, diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pains, a fever, chills, headaches and vomiting, which could ruin your holiday.

Although Salmonellosis is typically self-limiting, meaning that you can get better on your own, if you believe that you have contracted Salmonella, it's advisable to see a medical practitioner as soon as possible. You should request a stool sample test to confirm the presence of the Salmonella bacteria in your digestive system, but once the pathogen has been detected, you can start treatment, which in some cases includes a course of antibiotics.

Close up of the Salmonella bacteria

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If you suffer from Salmonella on a package holiday and a resort doctor is available, it's usually advisable to see them, but you're not under an obligation to do so, and you can opt to visit a doctor of your choosing. We recommend that if you choose to do this, that you also advise your tour operator and holiday rep of your condition, updating them on any changes during your stay.

There's a high risk of dehydration associated with a Salmonella infection, so it's important that you maintain your fluids by drinking plenty of water. You might find that a medical practitioner will recommend a rehydration solution such as Dioralyte to help your body to replace any lost salts.

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Claim holiday illness compensation

If you suffer from a gastric illness such as Salmonella at an all-inclusive package holiday destination, then under The Package Travel Regulations 1992, you could be entitled to claim compensation from your tour operator.

As part of a free no-obligation consultation, our travel law team can assess your case and advise you of the best way to proceed with your complaint. If we feel that you're eligible to claim holiday illness compensation, we can represent you on a 'no win no fee' basis.



Contact us about your holiday illness claim

To find out more about claiming compensation for holiday illness; speak to Daniel Ross by calling us on 0808 145 1353 or complete our enquiry form and we will call you back.



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