Woman on Turkish holiday blames stray cats for her salmonella poisoning

The Mail Online newspaper reports that a British woman, Tracy Marlor on holiday in Turkey, became very ill and, by implication, she blames sick cats who would eat from the tables. She described the hotel, the Paloma Foresta Resort and Spa, as a “five-star cattery”. The hotel has received very good reviews, incidentally. The picture below was taken by one of their guests.

PALOMA Foresta Resort stray cats
PALOMA Foresta Resort stray cats
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Towards the end of her holiday she became ill with gastric illness symptoms including diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloating, weight loss and lethargy. When she got home her GP told her that she needed to go to hospital for urgent medical treatment.

She was diagnosed with salmonella poisoning. The woman makes a big deal about the stray cats. As I said, by implication it seems that she is blaming them for her illness.

“It was quite surreal, the cats would roam around the hotel freely, and quite often they were being sick around the hotel. It was like we were staying at a five-star cattery, not a holiday resort. I was in a really bad way and while I managed to make it home, I was stunned when my GP told me to get to hospital. I couldn’t believe I had salmonella…”

That’s the nub of the story. She’s going to sue the Turkish hotel. The point that I want to make is that the salmonella poisoning that she contracted at her Turkish hotel was most likely the result of uncooked meat, seafood or poultry. The contamination of these raw foods may have occurred during the slaughtering process. Uncooked eggs also cause the disease. Vegetables washed in contaminated water can also cause salmonella poisoning.

I just don’t think it is fair to almost automatically blame the cats. It is more likely to have been caused by poor handling of raw foods. That said, a salmonella infection in cats can be transmitted to humans because the disease is zoonotic. The bacteria can be passed to humans in their stool. This seems a less likely source of the salmonella poisoning contracted by Marlor. In cats the disease is also called salmonellosis.

Salmonella is a bacteria, specifically a gram-negative enterobacteria. Perhaps the sick cats contracted the disease from eating poorly handled hotel food fed to them by guests i.e. the same cause as for the Marlor! We just don’t know but I don’t like to see accusations thrown at cats without reasonable evidence.

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