Families whose young children suffered from ‘constant sickness and diarrhoea’ and had to be admitted to hospital whilst staying at all-inclusive ‘five star’ hotel in Menorca have spoken of their ‘terrifying and traumatic’ ordeal.
The children aged two, four and 10 were rushed to a local hospital and given intravenous fluids and medication after being taken ill when staying at the Insotel Punta Prima Resort & Spa, having travelled with tour operator TUI in May.
A number of families have now instructed Hudgell Solicitors on their return to investigate the cause of the illness outbreak.
Louise Hunter, 36, of St Helens, says her family holiday with husband Steven, 44, and their children Rosie, four, and Sarah two, quickly turned ‘hellish’.
Having spent just one full day at the resort, arriving late evening on May 3rd, Sarah woke in the early hours of the Sunday morning having ‘projectile vomited in her sleep’.
“She didn’t even wake up, she was just instantly sick everywhere,” said Louise.
“Initially I didn’t worry too much so I stripped her bedding and put her in another pair of pyjamas, but 20 minutes later it happened again. Then she was continually being sick every 10 or 20 minutes. It carried on for a couple of hours and then Rosie started being sick, and like Sarah, she kept on being ill. It was horrendous, hellish.”
Mrs Hunter says both children continued to be sick, and a few hours later each started to suffer from diarrhoea, confining the family to their apartment.
Having requested to see the call-out doctor they were immediately sent to hospital, travelling by taxi arranged for them by the hotel.
Rosie had blood taken and was put on IV fluids as she was dehydrated. Her blood results came back positive for norovirus, which can be spread by eating food that has been prepared or handled by someone with the illness, from close contact with someone with norovirus, or from touching infected surfaces or objects and then touching your mouth.
“Both girls were so poorly and were treated for norovirus and gastroenteritis. We were extremely worried and scared for them,” Louise added.
“It is very frightening to be in hospital when you are abroad. The girls were just flaked out, they looked so ill it was heartbreaking. We stayed in hospital for two nights with them. Steven slept on a chair next to the kids and I was on the bottom of Sarah’s bed. “
The family were finally discharged after both children has stopped vomiting on May 7, but say they were not able to fully enjoy the remaining week of their break.
Mother and son kept in hospital and children developed blisters after swimming
For Jade Fulbrook, her husband Dave and their family, a break between May 6th and 13th at the same complex was the first they’d had together abroad and was something they had looked forward to for almost a year, costing close to £2,800.
However, she says problems started on just the second day of their break, when her children started to develop blisters on their feet after using the hotel swimming pool.
Matters were to get worse the following day when Jade fell ill herself, followed by her 10-yer-old son Oscar a day later.
“Two days into the holiday I started to suffer from really painful tummy cramps. By the middle of that night it was so bad that I couldn’t sleep,” Jade said.
“I have honestly never been in so much pain, and I’ve had four children. I’d rather have another baby than suffer that agony again, as by the next morning I couldn’t even get out of bed.
“It was horrendous for me as I have a sickness phobia and even the thought of being sick makes me anxious and panicky, so I was really struggling with what was happening.
“Then, that afternoon, my 10-year-old son, Oscar, came back from the pool and started projectile vomiting, then started suffering from diarrhoea. He could not stop being sick all afternoon and by this point our apartment was in such a state as we obviously had nothing to clean up with.
“Whilst he was suffering I was getting progressively worse and we had nothing in the apartment to clean up all the mess.
“We requested help but nobody came. I went to see the TUI rep in the hotel and they said that there had been another case of sickness the day before and that two children had ended up in hospital and she said that we should go too.”
Jade travelled to the hospital in a taxi with Oscar whilst her husband Dave, 38, stayed at the hotel with their other children Zachary, 12, Buddy, six, and three-year-old Bella.
“They organised for us to go in a taxi and I’ve never seen my son so poorly and I couldn’t really believe what was happening,” Jade added.
“At the hospital we were admitted and hooked up to IV for fluids and medication, staying in overnight. We were told we have acute gastroenteritis and dehydration.
“It was honestly my absolute worst nightmare come true, feeling so ill myself and trying to comfort my son who was the worst I had ever seen in terms of illness.
“To be in a foreign hospital, separated from the rest of my family, was frightening. I am not ashamed to admit I was very scared and I just wanted to be back home.
“After returning to the hotel I asked the rep about moving hotels but was told it would take too long to arrange. We were told not to eat any fat or sugar for the rest of the holiday and so pretty much stuck to dry toast and bread. I was very reluctant to eat anything at all for the rest of the holiday.
“I’m still not right even now and my children have been left traumatised by it all.”
Solicitors says serious nature of illnesses justify need for full investigation
Lawyer Anne Thomson, of Hudgell Solicitors, is a specialist in handling holiday illness compensation claims and says this is a particularly worrying case given the impact it had on young children.
She said: “We have had a situation here where people have been taken very seriously ill and where very young children have been affected. It has been very frightening for the parents and it is difficult to think of a more harrowing situation than to see your child so poorly in a foreign hospital.
“We feel the sudden onset of illnesses in all of these cases, particularly given all had only consumed food within the hotel buffet after arriving for their holidays, raises serious questions and we are now investigating the cause on behalf of a number of families.
“It is the responsibility of tour operators to ensure the highest hygiene and food standards on all-inclusive package holidays at all times. Sadly, as we have seen in so many cases over the years, standards can drop in large, busy hotel complexes where thousands of people holiday each year.
“Tour operators and the hotels they use also have a responsibility to quickly identify and contain any illness outbreaks by taking the appropriate measures.
“We’d certainly be interested to speak to any other families who have experienced problems when staying at this hotel from the beginning of May onwards, to see if there is a wider problem which needs to be addressed, and whether enough was done to prevent people becoming ill, and highly anticipated holidays from being ruined.”