Health authorities are warning holidaymakers to be wary of travelling to Mexico after visitors from the UK were struck down with a crippling food poisoning bug in a mass sickness outbreak.
Guests staying at all inclusive resorts and hotels in the Riviera Maya resort and Cancun in Mexico are reportedly suffering severe sickness and diarrhoea.
This is the fourth time that the resort areas have been hit with a mass sickness outbreak linked to the same bug, cyclospora, which is commonly associated with food and water contaminated with faeces.
In 2016, 443 UK nationals were confirmed with cyclospora from the same area.
Tainted food supplies
Health officials are now advising tourists to be wary of travelling to the region where people have caught the sickness bug.
Experts believe the illness is likely linked to tainted food supplied to hotels throughout the resort area, which may have been contaminated by faeces.
Guests are believed to have eaten contaminated food in their hotels, and later fell ill with severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Health authorities say investigations are being carried out to try and locate the source of the infection.
Ask your GP for a cyclospora test
“This is beyond belief,” said Nick Harris, Head of Travel at Simpson Millar solicitors, who is representing over 350 victims of past and current outbreaks.
“I warned TUI and ABTA that British holidaymakers were falling ill with the bug in May when people started contacting me. But they ignored me.
“They should have been warning people travelling to Mexico, but seem to put profit before safety. Tour operators are playing Russian roulette with their customers lives.
“I would urge anyone who has been sick like this on holiday to contact their GP and ask for a cyclospora test.”
Watch what you eat
Health authorities said that the outbreak, which they believe began in May, now involves 15 hotel resorts in Mexico.
They said in warning statement posted on their website, “Cases of infection with the diarrhoea causing parasite cyclospora have continued to be reported by UK holidaymakers returning from Mexico.
“This is the fourth successive year since 2015 that cases of cyclospora infection have been reported in travellers returning from Mexico.
“Where information is known, cases have stayed at several different hotels in the Cancun and Riviera Maya region (mostly on an all-inclusive basis), suggesting the source is again likely to be a foodstuff that has been distributed to hotels throughout the region.
“Infection is transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water, direct person to person spread does not occur. Foods often implicated in outbreaks include soft fruits like raspberries and salad products such as coriander, basil and lettuce.
“Infection can cause frequent, watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence, low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight.
“All travellers to Mexico are strongly advised to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene, even if staying in high-end resorts.
“On return from Mexico, if travellers have any symptoms such as those described above they should seek medical attention and inform their GP of their travel history.”
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman