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Campylobacter Illness at Melia Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba

Holidaymakers to Cuba are reporting an outbreak of sickness and diarrhoea at two of the island’s popular hotels – the Melia Las Dunas and the Melia Cayo Santa Maria.

A holidaymaker who fell ill at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria was hospitalised for two weeks and was diagnosed with campylobacter – a bacterial infection which causes common symptoms of holiday food poisoning including fever, stomach cramps, headache and sickness and diarrhoea.

Campylobacter is notifiable in the UK and a common cause of the infection is ingesting faeces through contaminated food or water.

Campylobacter can occur as a result of lapses in food hygiene and general cleanliness, such as food preparation staff not washing hands after using the lavatory or surfaces not being cleaned properly.

The Melia Cayo Santa Maria hotel is a four-star beach hotel used by Thomas Cook and has four à la carte restaurants. TripAdvisor reviews are generally excellent, but one review posted on 5 October by a guest from New York mentioned cockroaches “roaming freely” next to the all-inclusive buffet and lackadaisical staff in the buffet restaurant, with tables not cleared between guests.

Bottles of mineral water at the hotel had allegedly been refilled – and a staff member also failed to respond to the reviewer’s complaint that a cockroach was floating in a glass of beer ordered.

Although the management of the Melia Cayo Santa Maria hotel generally responds to favourable reviews, no response to this particular review had been logged at the time of writing.

The Melia Las Dunas is also a four-star resort in Cayo Santa Maria and is used by Thomas Cook.

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The hotel receives glowing reports on TripAdvisor. However, guests taken ill at the Melia Las Dunas have transferred to the Melia Cayo Santa Maria, which may indicate the infection has spread between the hotels.

TripAdvisor reviewers posting on 22 October and 20 October also mentioned a strong smell of mould in their hotel rooms at the Melia Las Dunas, suggesting maintenance and cleaning may be issues.

It was also noted that burgers served at the Melia Las Dunas were raw in the middle and food is bland, overcooked or undercooked. The management does respond to criticism and posted:

“We take your criticism about the level of our culinary offer as an incentive to keep improving and we regret that we could not be able to satisfy all your expectations.”

If you have been diagnosed with campylobacter or another gastric infection after a package holiday to Cuba, you have three years in which to make a claim for compensation, so contact Simpson Millar using our online enquiry form or Freephone number as soon as possible about making a campylobacter holiday illness claim.


Dated: 29/10/2012

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