A holidaymaker has spoken of her 'horrific and traumatic' ordeal after being struck down with salmonella poisoning while staying in the same Egyptian hotel where a British couple later died.
Jodie Brown says she was left fearing for her life after falling will during her stay at the Steigenburger Aqua Magic Hotel in June.
The 20-year-old, from South Shields, was left with a fever, crippling stomach cramps, sickness and diarrhoea and was admitted to hospital when she returned home.
Jodie has relived her holiday hell as inquests were due to open into the deaths of British tourists John and Susan Cooper, 69 and 63, from Burnley, who died after falling ill while at the hotel in August.
She is launching legal action against package holiday providers Thomas Cook, while her lawyer, travel litigation claims specialist Paul McClorry, of Hudgell Solicitors, says that given the size of the hotel, and the timeframe over which illnesses are being reported, the holiday firm could be facing a ‘seven-figure’ bill in compensation relating to those taken ill this summer.
Jodie had travelled with her partner Samuel Gibson, 23, excited about their dream holiday destination, having saved up around £1,200 plus spending money for a week-long break.
But the couple said that within days of arriving on June 11 – and without having left the hotel complex – Jodie became feverish, dizzy and faint and by the fourth day she was ‘spending most of the days in bed very sick.’
Samuel said he feared Jodie was becoming seriously ill as her temperature was not dropping, and feared she’d be too unwell to get home as he thought the situation was ‘life-threatening’.
He added: "I knew from the start it was a developing fever because she had a rapid rise in body temperature and when I checked her forehead the heat coming off her as like an oven.
"She had classic fever symptoms of hot and cold flashes with extreme nausea and diarrhoea, but on our fourth day she became much worse and spent most of the day in bed.
"It developed to a point of critical illness, with a very strong fever, stomach cramps, sickness and diarrhoea.
"This continued for the last two days of our holiday and she was getting worse. I worried she may not make it home as she couldn't get out of bed, was feeling very faint, and had to be next to a toilet at all times.
"She spent the whole of our final night in the bathroom and then we were made to check out of our room, despite me saying how sick Jodie was. She had to stay on two chairs which we pushed together in the lobby as we waited for our transfer to the airport.
"The last day was very traumatic. We had to get the plane home but I said to Jodie on several occasions that I thought we needed to go to the Egyptian hospital instead as she was severely dehydrated after days of suffering this extreme illness.
"I was worried that after being unable to eat or drink and being untreated for so long and in a very hot country, it was a potentially a life-threatening matter.
"At the time we did not know it was as serious as salmonella poisoning either."
On their return home, Jodie attended South Tyneside District Hospital, where she was treated over two days, spending 24 hours on a drip having suffered from dehydration.
The couple say they were later told she had suffered from food poisoning through salmonella, which is usually called by eating contaminated, undercooked meat, raw or undercooked eggs, food that has been cross-contaminated with Salmonella from raw foods - especially meats, poultry and eggs - or drinking water that has been contaminated.
Jodie added: "The whole experience was horrifying, frightening and painful, the most traumatic of my life. I have never felt anywhere near as ill as that in all my life and it was so bad at times that I was worried that I may die.
"It obviously ruined the entire holiday but I have been ill since I got back also. I have really struggled mentally and haven’t been eating well. I lost a stone in weight and I just don’t feel right. I used to be very active and went to the gym regularly but I just don’t have that energy at the minute."
Partner Samuel said: "Not once did we leave the hotel for food and drinks the whole stay so it is impossible that she caught salmonella anywhere else other than the hotel grounds.
"Nobody should have to go through what we went through."
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: "We are aware that a number of customers have come forward to say they have experienced illness while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt.
"We are very sorry for any customers whose holidays have been spoiled, including Ms Brown and her partner."
SEVEN-FIGURE COMPENSATION BILL PREDICTED BY LEGAL EXPERT
Solicitor Paul McClorry, of Hudgell Solicitors, who has been instructed to represent Jodie, said he is also representing an increasing number of people currently who, like her, have suffered illness when staying at the hotel this summer.
He said: "We are representing many people who have stayed at the hotel from early April to late August this year who have been seriously ill.
"It appears there have been a number of health concerns which may have contributed to these illnesses, and this is not the first year that such claims have been brought against this hotel.
"Given the size of the hotel complex, and the fact we have cases from April through to August this year, it would not surprise me if we see the number of people affected this summer at the hotel reach several hundred as this matter unfolds.
"That of course could be hugely costly in terms of the total compensation settlements Thomas Cook could be facing. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was in the region of seven figures, but it is only right that people are compensated for their loss of holiday, and illness.
"For most people the impact will hopefully only be a matter of days in terms of their illness, but for some it could have a longer term impact, and in those cases, substantial damages will be sought to adequately compensate them for their ongoing loss of earnings and medical costs."