Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Avoid a Mexico Holiday from Hell: Travel Tips

Mexico is becoming a popular destination for holidaymakers and honeymooners – but more reports of food poisoning are emerging in the media and it is essential that tourists take a few precautions to make sure their Mexico holiday does not turn out to be a nightmare.

Travel Vaccinations for Mexico

Mexico is a developing country and the following vaccinations are recommended:
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

The following are also recommended if you are going to be travelling around Mexico, visit frequently – or are staying for a longer holiday:
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • TB

Because of the increase in TB cases globally – and the rise of drug-resistant strains of TB – it is also worth asking your GP about a TB jab if you are going for a shorter stay in Mexico and planning to travel to an undeveloped area.

Food Poisoning in Mexico

Even luxury holiday resorts can experience a sudden outbreak of food poisoning among guests and the following bacterial infections have been diagnosed among holidaymakers to Mexico:
  • Amoebic dysentery
  • Campylobacter
  • Cryptosporidium
  • E.Coli
  • Giardia Lambia
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella

Outbreaks of Hepatitis A have also been reported among holidaymakers, so it is essential to have the appropriate vaccinations in time for your holiday – food poisoning can cause long-term conditions like irritable bowel syndrome if severe or left untreated.

The symptoms of different bacterial infections causing food poisoning can be similar and it may be necessary to see your GP for a diagnosis on your return home – follow up treatment might be needed to clear any infection.

Symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea should pass within about two days in a mild bout of food poisoning, but seek medical help in the event of the following:
  • Blood in stools, urine or when vomiting
  • Feeling confused or faint, which may be a sign of severe dehydration
  • Prolonged bouts of diarrhoea or sickness with stomach cramps and watery stools, which might indicate a serious infection like dysentery
  • Symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea which disappear and return a few weeks later, which may indicate salmonella
  • Unable to eat or keep any solids or liquids down for two days.
Over-the-counter medications like loperamide for diarrhoea and domperidone for vomiting can help ease symptoms – but must not be taken without medical supervision if you are already on medication.

Children, the elderly and vulnerable holidaymakers with lowered immune systems (eg those with chronic illnesses or conditions such as heart disease, cancer or HIV) need special monitoring when ill with food poisoning on holiday, as dehydration can sometimes prove fatal if left untreated.

How to avoid food poisoning on holiday

All inclusive holidays can sometimes be a breeding ground for bacterial infection because of buffet meals and large groups of diners sharing serving spoons and touching crockery, glasses and food.

Poor food preparation and hygiene at holiday accommodation can also lead to outbreaks of food poisoning and you must advise your holiday rep if you see any incidences of dirty public areas – including swimming pools – or are offered food which is not properly cooked, heated or chilled as it should be (and that includes hot drinks like tea and coffee).

Other ways to make sure your Mexico adventure doesn’t turn into a holiday nightmare include:
  • Always drink plenty of bottled water (at least one-and-a-half litres a day) on a Mexico holiday – don’t drink water from communal jugs or unsealed bottles
  • Don’t eat undercooked meat, poultry or fish – or eggs, milk or cheese which are not chilled or fresh
  • Don’t use dirty cutlery, crockery or glasses and cups
  • Never swim just after a heavy meal or alcohol – or if you have taken medication or recreational drugs
  • Try not to overeat or drink too much in the sun – you risk sickness, dehydration and possible sunstroke
  • Limit spicy foods if you have an upset stomach – stick to plain soups, dry toast and keep food intake simple until you feel better.

Avoiding holiday accidents in Mexico

Holidays are all about adventures so make sure you have adequate travel insurance – and take a few precautions when out and about in Mexico to prevent any holiday accidents:
  • Avoid dirty public places like WCs and report these to the rep at your holiday accommodation
  • Dirty swimming pools can lead to cryptosporidium infections – ie severe bouts of sickness and diarrhoea caused by a parasitic infection – so always shower before and after using the swimming pool and do not allow babies in dirty nappies to use the pool
  • If you are taking part in dangerous sports, make sure you have the appropriate insurance cover – and that the company offering the activity carries adequate public liability insurance, safety equipment  and staff are properly trained
  • Take antibacterial handwipes or liquid to keep hands clean if you are unable to wash them – hygiene is important if you don’t want to be ill on holiday in Mexico.
If you do become ill on holiday in Mexico, report this to your holiday rep and keep any evidence of poor hygiene at your hotel – your package company is responsible for making sure standards of hygiene are maintained and holidaymakers do not become ill with food poisoning under the Package Travel Regulations 1992.

Get in Touch

If you need legal advice in relation to a Holiday Accident or Holiday Illness then get in touch with your specialist Holiday Claims team on: 0808 145 1353 or visit our Holiday Claims website for further information.

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