A family in England fell sick while on holiday in Mexico with at least one of them having a confirmed Cyclospora infection.

Philip Whitmore tested positive for Cyclospora after speaking with a doctor about his symptoms.

The 61-year-old said he was shocked after being told of the diagnosis and learning how the disease can be contracted.

“I did not expect to visit a five-star hotel and contract such an illness. Being a retired chef with 40 years of professional catering experience, I did notice some concerning issues around food hygiene as the holiday went on, but I never thought that most of my family would become so unwell,” he said.

Infection from the parasite is usually acquired from food or water contaminated by human feces. Microscopic amounts of feces can contain the parasite. Products usually associated with the parasite can be soft fruits such as raspberries or salads like coriander, basil, and lettuce. Symptoms typically begin seven days after ingestion of the Cyclospora parasite and can include diarrhea, fever and nausea.

The United Kingdom reported 79 Cyclospora cases in 2015, 359 in 2016, 82 in 2017 and 61 in 2018.

Ill while on holiday
Katie and Ashley Richards, from Derby, went to the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico, in July this year with their daughter. They were joined on the two-week trip, which was booked through tour operator TUI UK, by other family members.

Most of them fell ill during the holiday with some still having symptoms after returning to England. The family has asked lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the illnesses.

“If, during the course of our investigations, any issues are identified, it’s vital that lessons are learned to help prevent other holidaymakers from falling ill in the future. We would be interested in speaking to anyone who may have been impacted by illness at this hotel who would be able to assist with our investigations,” said attorney Nadhia Akthar.

Alison and Philip Whitmore started to feel unwell on July 28. By the following day, both had diarrhea, tiredness, sweating and stomach pains. They were in bed for three days.

Alleged issues at the hotel
Katie Richards began to feel unwell on July 26, with vomiting and diarrhea. Within three days, Ashley Richards and their daughter and nephew had also fallen ill.

Katie Richards said most of her relatives spent some of the second week unwell.

“I recall some of the food, including chicken, appeared undercooked and was served lukewarm. New food was added on top of the existing buffet and some items were totally dried out and inedible. I also noticed that salad, yogurts and cottage cheese weren’t kept chilled, and the cutlery and crockery were often dirty or stained,” she said. 

“We also saw a lot of flies around the food, as well as cats, birds and raccoons hanging around. I even found a maggot in the salad one evening. It’s really not the standard you expect from a five-star hotel. The worst part was seeing most of the family become ill and distressed and there being nothing we could do about it. It’s more than a month since we got back and we’re still not 100 percent, which indicates how ill we were.” 

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