A South Yorkshire holidaymaker who faces long-term health problems after falling ill with a deadly infection is suing her tour operator.
Catherine Lowe, aged 26, came down with salmonella poisoning during a stay at a hotel in Bulgaria.
The healthcare assistant needed to be hooked up to a drip at a local medical centre when her symptoms left her dangerously dehydrated, and she still suffers from irritable bowel syndrome two years on.
Catherine says the trip was a ‘complete nightmare’.
Her solicitors have issued court proceedings against holiday company Thomas Cook as part of efforts to win compensation.
Catherine fell ill six days into her 10-day holiday at the Laguna Park resort in June 2012.
She suffered severe diarrhoea and stomach pains, and was given treatment at a Bulgarian clinic, but still felt unwell when she returned home to Worsbrough, Barnsley.
Her GP quickly diagnosed salmonella food poisoning.
“I was appalled by the conditions at the Laguna Park Hotel,” said Catherine.
“I was looking forward to visiting Bulgaria.
“The trip was meant to be a relaxing holiday with my best friend but it turned into a complete nightmare.”
Meals meant to be served hot were ‘undercooked at best’, she says.
“I witnessed chefs at the restaurant sometimes handling raw meat with the same utensils they used on other foods,” she said.
“When I tried to complain to hotel staff about the conditions in the restaurant and the general hygiene of the hotel they were extremely rude and would not accept that there was a problem.
“When I fell ill, I had to go to a nearby medical centre for treatment and I was put on a drip and given other medication to try to relieve my symptoms.
“I was in agony and I just wanted to get home.”
She needed a week off work to recover, and has been left with ‘post-infective IBS’, where the lining of the bowel is more sensitive than it was previously.
The condition can last for years.
Catherine said she was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the hotel.
“They made me check out of the hotel at noon despite my illness,” she added.
Tonia Kingsley, a travel law expert at law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing Catherine, said: “We have been left with no choice but to issue court proceedings to seek a fair settlement on behalf of our client.
“Salmonella is a potentially fatal form of food poisoning that can leave sufferers with permanent symptoms.
“We will now continue to work on Catherine’s behalf in order to secure a fair settlement that reflects the suffering and loss which she has had to endure.”