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Scots tourists given travel health warning after holidaymakers in Mexico struck by sickness bug

© GettyCancun beach
Cancun beach

Scots holidaymakers heading to Mexico have been issued with a health warning after tourists were struck down with crippling stomach pains, sickness and diarrhoea.

Guests staying at hotels in the Riviera Maya resort and Cancun in Mexico have been struck down with the cyclospora parasite for the fifth year in a row.

Nearly 200 Scots have been struck down with the bug, which is spread by contaminated water and food, since 2016.

The same areas were subject to a public health warning three years ago.

At least eight Scots tourists have fallen ill so far this year and authorities believe this number will rise rapidly with a number of luxury all inclusive hotels in the Riviera Maya resort believed to already be affected by the latest outbreak.

Advice suggests the illness is likely linked to tainted food delivered to the hotels.

Health Protection Scotland is now advising anyone who has visited the resorts and is feeling ill to seek medical attention.

One victim from the Scottish Borders remains sick from the bug a year on from a TUI holiday to the same resort last year.

They’ve now been referred to a hospital tropical medicine unit after testing positive for the bug for the fifth time.

Head of Travel at Simpson Millar solicitors Nick Harris, who is representing over 450 victims including Scots caught up in the current and past outbreaks, said: “We have been inundated with people who have fallen ill in the resorts.

“Scots have saved all year only to be let down by their tour operator at the first hurdle. They knew this bug is rife in Mexico but haven’t told people, preferring to keep quiet.

“We have spoken with tourists who said the first they knew of the illness was when letters were given to them in the resort. By then it is too late.

“Tour operators need to do more instead of putting profit before the safety of their customers who have put their trust in them.”

The sickness bug is spread by infected human faeces contaminating water or food, with previous outbreaks connected to salad products like mint, lettuce or basil and fresh soft fruits like raspberries.

Symptoms include frequent, watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence and loss of appetite.

Health Protection Scotland state on a travel advisory note on their website: “All travellers to Mexico are strongly advised to maintain a high standard of food, water and personal hygiene even if staying in luxury resorts.

“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.

“On return from Mexico, if travellers have any symptoms such as those described above they should seek medical attention.”

A spokesperson for Health Protection Scotland confirmed an outbreak of cyclospora in Mexico stating: “There have been seasonal outbreaks of cyclospora infection in returning travellers from Mexico over the past four years.

“The majority of cases stayed at the Riviera Maya and Cancun regions of Mexico. Health Protection Scotland is aware of 8 cases in Scotland this year with a history of travel to Mexico.

“Cyclospora Infection can cause diarrhoea illness. The infection can be more serious in individuals with an impaired immune system.

“Prevention is through following good food and water hygiene practices at all times while on holiday. Anyone with symptoms should tell their GP that they have been abroad.”