A FAMILY from Wimborne are taking legal action after they say they fell seriously ill while holidaying at the same hotel at which a British couple died suddenly.

Sarah McCormick, 37, said her husband Thomas was so badly affected by Salmonella and the intestinal disease Shigella during the trip she feared he would die.

The couple and their two daughters Paige, 15, and nine-year-old Lexi, were all ill while on an all inclusive £5,000 holiday at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada last year.

Mr McCormick, who is a floor layer, was left “curled up in a ball of pain” due to crippling stomach pains, sickness and diarrhoea. He was placed on a drip but he said a local doctor took five attempts to insert a hypodermic needle - even snapping one in half whilst it was inserted in his arm.

In August last year John Cooper, 69, and his wife Susan, 63, from Burnley died suddenly while staying at the same hotel.

The original Egyptian post-mortem examination said the couple’s deaths were linked to E. Coli, but a British post-mortem proved inconclusive although an expert said the Coopers may have been exposed to an “infectious biological agent or toxic chemicals”.

An inquest into their deaths is due to take place later. At the time of the tragedy Thomas Cook evacuated 301 tourists from the hotel.

Lawyers handling compensation claims from holidaymakers now claim they have received further reports of illness in the coastal resort of Hurghada.

Mrs McCormick, a book-keeper, said: “My husband used to be in the army and does Ironmans and triathlons and he couldn’t even lift his head off the bed he was that sick. My husband caught two separate bugs while we were over there in that resort. It’s shocking.”

“Normally in an all inclusive you have to queue everywhere but because so many people were sick in their rooms, the busiest place in the resort was the pharmacy and the on site doctors surgery. We don’t want anyone to go through what we went through. People need to be aware of what can happen if they go out there on holiday to the area as by the time they get there it is already too late.”

The incident occurred after the McCormicks flew out to the resort on August 2 last year after paying £5,000 for their two-week break.

She said: ‘It really was the holiday from hell. There were seven people in our party and all seven of us fell ill and four of us ended up on drips including my daughter.” When we got there it was late - we were given the wrong room and it had no air conditioning but we were told we had to wait until the next day to change. So we had a stifling night with hardly any sleep.

‘’The next day we changed rooms and at first we thought it was the quietest resort we had ever been to but we should have seen the warning signs. There were people sat by the pool drinking tea and coffee and soft drink and it was because they were too ill to drink alcohol.

‘’We saw waiters putting their fingers in guests’ drinks whilst carrying glasses to their tables. Other workers would be cleaning algae and dirt off the side of the pool with dirty cloths which they then rinsed in the pool. They were doing it whilst guests were swimming -it was very unhygienic.”

‘’The buffet food was luke warm and there were flies on the bread and work tops in the restaurant and the tables were covered in left over food. A lot of the food was congealed as the covers had been left off and the waiters hadn’t cleaned the tables properly and there were bits of food. It wasn’t very appetising. The hand sanitisers outside the restaurant were often empty.’’

Three days into the holiday her 42-year-old husband fell sick with stomach cramps, sickness and diarrhoea. Mrs McCormick added: ‘’He was very sick and in a lot of pain. I just thought he would get over it but he didn’t he got worse. then I fell sick along with Paige - all three of were laid up sick in bed.

‘’I felt like a really bad parent as my youngest daughter had to stay in the bedroom with us as we couldn’t go out because we were all that sick and had to constantly be near the toilet.”

“Thomas just didn’t seem to be getting any better. he was in so much pain he was curled up on the bed. I have never seen him like that. it really scared me as he is always so physically fit having been in the army but he couldn’t move. I really thought he could be dying he was that bad. Then Lexi also fell ill and when we visited the onsite doctor the waiting room was already full of sick tourists.

“We had been buying lots of medication and paying doctor’s fees and then we discovered the best treatment would be through a drip. But the excess on our travel insurance policy was too much so we could only afford to have two treatments. So even though we were all ill we decided my husband and eldest daughter should have the drips as they were the most sick.”

‘’When the doctor tried to insert the needle in Thomas’ arm he failed to find a vein and it took five attempts after he broke one of the needles.’’

Paige and Mr McCormick were both left with bruising to their arms following the treatments. The family logged a complaint with their Thomas Cook holiday rep before leaving the resort just days before the deaths of the Coopers.

On his return to the UK, Mr McCormick was diagnosed as having both Salmonella and Shigella while his wife continued to be sick. Their daughters were not tested as they felt better on their return.

Lawyer Simon Lomax at Simpson Millar solicitors, who is handling her claim along with other guests who have fallen ill in the past at the same hotel, said: “There appears to a serious problems with hygiene in the Hurghada area. I have received calls from returning travellers stating that tour operators are handing out warning letters in resort about E.coli - but it’s a bit too late for that following the onset of illness. Late notification could be seen as a deliberate ploy to prevent travellers from seeking to cancel or make alternative arrangements before departure. Tour operators need to be doing a lot more to reduce the risk of serious illness.”

A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our first priority and we take all reports of sickness very seriously. Mrs McCormick has now made a legal claim which our team is looking into.” The Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel remains off sale to any of our customers, from the UK and the rest of Europe, indefinitely.”