Episode 12 Rip Off Britain


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Episode 12

Julia Somerville, Gloria Hunniford and Angela Rippon investigate stories to do with staying healthy and safe while travelling.


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Transcript


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We asked you who has left you feeling ripped off

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when it comes to your holidays.

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And you came back with a catalogue of travel disasters.

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Obviously I'm not going to risk my child's life.

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So I had to get off the flight.

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I am absolutely devastated for my grandson,

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who's not getting the holiday I wanted him to have.

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Whether it's a deliberate rip-off, a simple mistake,

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or a catch in the small print,

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we'll find out why you're out of pocket and what you can do about it.

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Your stories, your money - this is Rip-Off Britain.

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Hello and thank you so much for joining us for a sunny edition

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of Rip-Off Britain. Now, this series, we're in Tenerife,

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getting to grips with more of the travel and holiday stories

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that you've asked us to investigate on your behalf.

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And while thankfully most trips away go perfectly smoothly,

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today we'll be sharing some really quite shocking examples

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of just how quickly things can go very seriously wrong.

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And that's because, as we'll see,

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if you or someone with whom you're travelling falls ill

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or has an accident which, let's face it,

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is something that can happen like that, in just a second,

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then it's not only the holiday that might be ruined,

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the consequences can last way after you've already returned home.

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And while of course you can never entirely remove the risk

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of that sort of thing happening, there are ways that

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you can give yourself the best chance of staying safe.

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So, as we hear a real mix of dramatic experience,

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get ready for some tips and advice to help you do just that.

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Coming up - how the shortage of a vital health jab needed

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for some top destinations could mean holiday-makers

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who plan to go there will end up having to pay more.

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It was shocking and it was stressful

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that this immunisation wasn't available.

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We'd not been made aware when we booked the holiday

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that there was an issue.

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And after cases of an illness spread by insect bites

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have rocketed across Europe,

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we've got everything you need to know to keep yourself safe.

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The symptoms can really vary between different people.

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Some people can get it and not even know they've got it.

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Other people can develop very serious symptoms.

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Thanks to global immunisation programmes,

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some of the world's deadliest diseases

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have thankfully been consigned to history.

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But there are still parts of the world where thousands and

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thousands of people die from illnesses that have largely been

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wiped out in other countries.

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So if you're headed to one of those areas,

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then it really is essential that you make sure you're protected against

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catching anything nasty by getting the right set of injections

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before you go.

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But with supplies of one particular vaccination running low,

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some holiday-makers are opting to travel

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without getting the recommended set of jabs,

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which in itself creates a much greater risk

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than they might realise, and not just to themselves.

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Whether you're on a package deal to Brazil

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or planning a trek through Thailand,

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there are still plenty of diseases holiday-makers may be exposed to

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when travelling to far-flung places.

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And one of the most common of those is hepatitis A.

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Especially nasty and highly contagious,

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it can lead to severe sickness and even liver failure,

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which is why the advice has long been to get yourself vaccinated

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before heading off to somewhere exotic.

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And of course with fares to such places

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being increasingly affordable,

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a growing number of us are doing exactly that,

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including supermarket manager Darren Monks.

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In early 2017,

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he was in the thick of organising his wedding to his fiancee Danielle,

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and his job was to book their honeymoon.

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So, keen to make the experience extra special,

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he chose a beach holiday to Mexico.

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As a couple, obviously we wanted some time together to, you know,

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celebrate the wedding and obviously to relax after the wedding,

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and it just looked like the perfect holiday.

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Obviously it was something different, it wasn't in Europe,

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where we would normally go with the children.

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So, yeah, pretty much it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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to enjoy it, really, enjoy the holiday.

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Attracted by the white sandy beaches and near-guaranteed good weather,

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Darren went ahead and booked the honeymoon online.

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The paperwork came through and they were all set to fly

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the day after the wedding.

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But as the day came closer,

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he realised he'd forgotten something really important.

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Having spoken to a few people around me, you know,

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saying we were going to Mexico,

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we realised that we needed the vaccines,

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which is something that we had to sort out pretty sharpish.

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Mexico is just one of the popular destinations for which

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it's recommended that you get vaccinated against hepatitis A.

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Other areas include the Indian subcontinent, Africa,

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Central and South America, and the Far East.

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The problem was, when both Darren and Danielle

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went to their respective GPs,

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they were told that supplies of that particular vaccine had run out.

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So I was told that there was a problem with the hepatitis A vaccine

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and it was a shortage.

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The nurse at that time, she issued me with a pamphlet

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and information from the NHS stating the risks involved

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on going on holiday if not having the vaccine.

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I then left, obviously...

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..thinking that I could potentially get my vaccine at another doctor's,

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another practice or even privately.

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But I'm afraid it wasn't quite that simple.

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Far from being a brief localised difficulty,

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there was a global shortage of the crucial vaccine and, at the time,

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most GPs and private clinics were running very low on stocks.

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We tried several...

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..you know, out-of-hours clinics, we looked online and we could see that,

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yeah, there was an issue.

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Now, within the travel industry, the shortage of the hepatitis A vaccine,

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which I'm afraid is ongoing, had been well-known for some time.

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In recent years, demand for it had boomed,

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not least because of a rise in the number of hepatitis outbreaks

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right across the world.

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Between May 2016 and May 2017,

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there was an unusually high number

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of new cases in Europe,

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the USA and Chile,

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and manufacturers simply couldn't keep up with the demand.

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So Darren's annoyed that they only found out about all of this

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a few weeks before his honeymoon,

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and that it hadn't been highlighted on the website when he booked.

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It was shocking and it was stressful that, you know,

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the fact that this immunisation, you know, wasn't available.

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We'd not been made aware when we booked the holiday,

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we'd not been made aware in any correspondence

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from the holiday company that there was an issue.

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Darren did eventually find a private travel clinic

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that did have stocks of the vaccine,

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but I'm afraid it was going to cost them £300,

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which was money that they simply hadn't budgeted for.

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So the couple decided to take the risk

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and travel without being vaccinated.

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And, you know, they're not alone in that.

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The international shortage has led to a lot of people travelling

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to their destinations unprotected.

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Hello, Nomad Travel, Amy speaking. How can I help?

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This is a travel clinic in central Manchester.

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Hi, I'm Emily. I'm one of the nurses.

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Do you want to come through?

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Jamie Crell is weeks away from going travelling

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to a part of the world where really he needs a range of vaccinations,

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including hepatitis A.

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-So, you're off to Cambodia and Thailand?

-Yeah.

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Is that right? Yeah.

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But nurse Emily has some bad news.

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So these are sort of the normal vaccines recommended for travel.

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Sort of the hepatitis A, the tetanus

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-and the typhoid are the standard ones.

-Yeah.

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-So both of those are through contaminated food and water.

-Yeah.

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-Unfortunately we've got a shortage of the...

-Yeah.

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You've probably heard, yeah, but we have got a shortage

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of the hepatitis A at the moment.

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-So we can't actually give you that one, unfortunately.

-Yeah.

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Jamie's able to get other vaccines recommended for anyone visiting

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Cambodia and Thailand, but like many travel clinics up and down the UK,

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Emily doesn't have hepatitis A vaccine in stock.

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Occasionally we have been getting sort of little dribs and drabs

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of the vaccine and then we'll have it available,

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but it'll go really quickly cos it is one of the most common ones

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recommended for most destinations.

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-All done.

-Cheers, perfect.

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So without the vaccine,

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all Emily can do is offer holiday-makers advice

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on how to avoid hepatitis A,

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the symptoms of which can be pretty nasty.

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Even though it's not usually a fatal disease,

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it will make you feel pretty rough for a few weeks. Erm...

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But it's also contagious,

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so if somebody was to go away, contract hepatitis A, come back,

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they can then pass it on to family members, colleagues.

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You know, if they give it to their kids,

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there's then outbreaks in schools potentially.

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You know, that's the sort of public health concern with hepatitis A.

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So to reduce the risk of catching the disease where it's prevalent,

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Emily has a few tips,

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which begin with only eating thoroughly cooked hot food.

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In general, things like making sure that food's really well cooked,

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not eating things like salads that, you know,

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anything that hasn't been washed very well or it hasn't been cooked.

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You're relying on people having washed their hands before

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they've prepared your food, basically.

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And if they haven't done that, then you can get ill.

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So generally if something's really hot,

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it's too hot to eat straightaway,

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that's going to have killed any bugs that might be in there.

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So avoiding buffets and food served cold is a good way to stay safe.

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And Emily recommends being extra careful when drinking water.

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Water's really important.

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So it's important to either buy bottled water

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or there are kind of filter bottles that you can buy,

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where you can just fill up with tap water and drink it through

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a good filter that kills things off.

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Emily's next patient is Tom Southern.

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He's here for vaccines for a trek through a remote jungle in Thailand.

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Whereabouts in Thailand is it that you're going to be?

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So, going to start in Bangkok

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and then to Chiang Mai as well.

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And how long are you in the sort of the jungle region in Chiang Mai?

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Maybe a week in Chiang Mai,

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but I'm thinking about doing a proper, like, four-day trek

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-in the jungle.

-OK.

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Tom's been able to get some of the hepatitis A vaccine from his GP,

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but I'm afraid only a child's dose.

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You're quite lucky you've had the hep A.

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I would say that one's probably the bigger thing,

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cos you're definitely going to eat and drink and that one's more

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prevalent through food and water.

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So it's good that you've got that one.

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The other vaccines Tom needs for his jungle adventure include

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jabs for rabies and Japanese encephalitis,

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and those will be setting him back more than £180,

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because while some holiday vaccines,

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including those for hepatitis A and typhoid,

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you can usually get from your GP for free,

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there are others that aren't paid for by the NHS.

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And now in light of the shortage of the hepatitis vaccines,

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and the growing cost to the NHS to provide them,

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the debate has reopened as to whether holiday-makers

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should really be able to get any of these without charge on the NHS,

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and the whole issue is under review.

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Larry Goodyer is a professor at the School of Pharmacy

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at the De Montfort University

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and explains why the review has been instigated.

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There are some vaccines which are free - hepatitis A is one of them.

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There's some vaccines which are not free and you have to pay for,

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like yellow fever.

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And the big question being asked at the moment is, those that are free,

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should they continue to be free?

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Because essentially the NHS might be seen as paying

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for people's holidays or contributing to them.

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In March 2017,

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the NHS Clinical Commissioners identified a variety of savings

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that could be made if the NHS stopped providing

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certain items for free.

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If that happened with travel vaccinations,

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around £9.5 million could be freed up for other priorities.

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The recommendations were put out for consultation

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and Public Health England is expected to announce the result

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in March 2018.

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But Professor Goodyer believes that regardless of the outcome

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of the review, people should consider the cost of vaccinations

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before booking their holiday.

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I believe that people should be factoring in the cost of vaccines

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and the cost of other travel health requirements to their trip,

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and these can vary quite considerably

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depending on what you're doing.

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So the cost of going to the same country in one situation

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could be quite different to another, where you might be going for longer

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and doing something more adventurous.

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Of course, back in Prestwich, Darren hadn't budgeted for

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getting his hepatitis A vaccines,

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which is why after all the costs of the wedding,

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he and Danielle took the decision to travel to Mexico without them.

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Well, I'm glad to say their honeymoon went well

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and they returned in good health.

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But he accepts that paying for jabs may well be an extra cost

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that he'll need to factor into future trips.

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I think when I'm booking my next holiday to somewhere where you need

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travel vaccinations which you've got to pay for,

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I'm going to have to budget that in for my family,

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and that ultimately may influence where I go,

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based on the budget and what the immunisations are going to cost.

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Now, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that one of the downsides

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of travelling abroad to warmer places

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is the increase in the number of creepy crawlies that seem determined

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to quite literally get under my skin.

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And though most bugs will leave you with no more than a nip or a sting,

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there's one whose bite, if you leave it untreated,

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could leave you needing far more serious treatment

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when you return home.

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But the good news is, there is a way to protect yourself.

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So don't go anywhere until you hear what that is.

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Summer holidays aren't just about relaxing by the beach.

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For many people, heading to the countryside for walks,

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picnics and even camping is an ideal way to relax.

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But these outdoor activities come with a health hazard.

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In many holiday hot spots around the UK and Europe,

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ticks are a major and rapidly growing problem.

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These small spider-like creatures bury themselves into your skin

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and can pass on a condition called Lyme disease,

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which, if left untreated,

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can lead to tiredness and muscle pain and perhaps heart problems,

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seizures or even death.

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Veronika Valentova is from the Czech Republic

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and has been in the UK for the last 15 years.

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She lives in Bristol with her two children

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and as a family they love the great outdoors.

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I love being in nature.

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I love being outdoors, you know,

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just walk and look around.

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It just feels great. You feel free.

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My children love nature. Be able to do and explore

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is just much more rewarding than being inside, playing with toys.

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Back in 2016, when Veronika was seven months pregnant with Isabella,

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she took her son Michael on holiday to the Czech Republic to spend time

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with the family and learn more about the country they were from.

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Every morning he would go to Czech preschool, where he would learn

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the language, and every afternoon, we would spend in nature.

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So we would go out in the forest and we would build houses

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from lots of natural stuff like sticks, and we would scout

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and we would play hide-and-seek in the fields.

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You know, just things that we don't get to do very much in England.

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But after one such walk in the countryside,

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Veronika found a tick attached to her skin.

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Something was itching me under my breast

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and I kept scratching it, scratching it, scratching it.

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I was thinking, "What's that?"

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And I just scrapped it away, pulled it and saw it was a tick.

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But obviously without the legs

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because I didn't remove it correctly.

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Veronika wasn't particularly worried

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and continued with her summer holiday, but within a few weeks,

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she started to feel seriously unwell.

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I had severe pain in my pelvis and in my hips.

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It was really hard to walk,

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it was really hard to really get out of bed and do anything

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and I was already 40 weeks pregnant and I thought I've got flu.

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Maybe it's the hot weather and the pregnancy.

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I didn't know really. Just forgot all about the tick bite. Didn't,

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just didn't pop in my head at all.

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Putting her symptoms down to the late stages of pregnancy,

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it was some time before Veronika sought out medical help.

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She had no idea that what she was suffering from

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was most likely Lyme disease,

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caught from the tick that she'd found buried in her skin.

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At the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,

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Dr James Logan has studied the condition closely over the years.

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Lyme disease is a bacteria which is found inside the tick

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when it's infected and so when it bites,

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it can transmit the bacteria into us.

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Now, the symptoms of Lyme disease can really vary

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between different people.

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Some people can get it and not even know they've got it.

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Other people can develop very severe symptoms,

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and certainly if you have it and it goes untreated for a long period

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of time, it can cause paralysis,

0:17:300:17:31

it can start to affect the internal organs.

0:17:310:17:34

If you have any symptoms within a few days of being bitten by a tick,

0:17:360:17:41

then a course of antibiotics can help.

0:17:410:17:43

But leave it for any length of time

0:17:430:17:45

and there's a risk of long-term damage.

0:17:450:17:48

One of the clues that you might have caught Lyme disease

0:17:480:17:51

is a particular kind of rash.

0:17:510:17:53

One of the telltale signs of Lyme disease

0:17:530:17:55

is a rash called an erythema migrans, or a bull's-eye rash.

0:17:550:17:59

So it's just a red rash that looks like a bull's-eye

0:17:590:18:02

and it starts to spread.

0:18:020:18:04

And if you have that, you definitely have Lyme disease,

0:18:040:18:07

but it's only found in 50% of people that have Lyme disease.

0:18:070:18:10

So if you don't have it, it doesn't mean you don't have Lyme disease.

0:18:100:18:13

Peekaboo!

0:18:130:18:15

Back at home in Bristol,

0:18:150:18:17

shortly after her summer holiday Veronika gave birth to Isabella,

0:18:170:18:20

who is perfectly healthy.

0:18:200:18:22

But she continued to feel very weak and then she noticed that red rash.

0:18:220:18:27

I actually got a rash all over my chest and all over my back.

0:18:270:18:31

And I went to the doctor's, asked about the rash and they said,

0:18:310:18:35

"Oh, you are breast-feeding, you are weak.

0:18:350:18:37

"It's still early days after the delivery.

0:18:370:18:39

"We don't know what it is. It could be just that your immune system

0:18:390:18:43

"is a bit low." So they gave me some steroid cream to put on the rash.

0:18:430:18:49

But sure that it was something more serious,

0:18:510:18:53

Veronika went to see a doctor back home in the Czech Republic,

0:18:530:18:57

who said her long list of symptoms exactly mirrored

0:18:570:19:00

what you could expect with Lyme disease.

0:19:000:19:02

Frustratingly, though,

0:19:020:19:04

here in the UK she's yet to have it formally diagnosed

0:19:040:19:07

as her blood tests have come back negative,

0:19:070:19:10

which, according to Dr Logan, is common in Lyme disease cases.

0:19:100:19:15

One of the tricky things about Lyme disease is that it can be

0:19:150:19:18

quite difficult to diagnose, so there are diagnostic techniques,

0:19:180:19:21

but they don't always give a positive result when they should.

0:19:210:19:25

But it's not just about the diagnostic test,

0:19:250:19:26

it's also about the history of where you've been -

0:19:260:19:29

where have you been on holiday, what have the symptoms been?

0:19:290:19:34

Well, Veronika is in no doubt that it IS Lyme disease

0:19:340:19:36

that she's suffering from. Over the last 18 months,

0:19:360:19:39

she's had to leave her job as a childminder

0:19:390:19:42

and seek help from family and friends like Christina

0:19:420:19:45

to help carry out the simplest of tasks.

0:19:450:19:48

I can see a change almost every day. She's just getting worse.

0:19:480:19:51

It's just getting... The symptoms are getting worse.

0:19:510:19:54

Because I am with her every day, I can actually see it.

0:19:540:19:58

I can see that she's got really bad days.

0:19:580:20:01

You know, she, she's just getting worse.

0:20:010:20:03

I struggle to get out of bed.

0:20:060:20:08

I struggle to just do basic things like making myself breakfast,

0:20:080:20:13

because sometimes I get so weak I can't even carry a bowl with cereal.

0:20:130:20:17

It's just too heavy.

0:20:170:20:19

And sometimes the pain is so crippling

0:20:190:20:22

that you just can't get on. You need so much painkillers

0:20:220:20:25

that make you drowsy and make you even worse than you are.

0:20:250:20:28

And you like feeding Mummy.

0:20:280:20:30

Mm!

0:20:310:20:32

Now, of course there are ticks in the UK

0:20:340:20:36

as well as in holiday destinations abroad.

0:20:360:20:39

Around 6% of the ones found here are estimated to carry Lyme disease,

0:20:390:20:43

whereas in Central Europe, the figure is around 20%.

0:20:430:20:47

And with the number of ticks increasing by as much as 70%

0:20:470:20:50

in the last ten years, you can see why it's feared that

0:20:500:20:54

holiday-makers to European countries,

0:20:540:20:56

where the tiny creatures are most common,

0:20:560:20:58

face a growing risk of being bitten

0:20:580:21:00

and possibly contracting the disease.

0:21:000:21:02

In France, where 17 million Brits visit every year,

0:21:030:21:07

ticks have been described as a major health issue

0:21:070:21:10

after an increase in cases of Lyme disease over the last ten years.

0:21:100:21:14

There were 27,000 recorded in 2016 alone.

0:21:140:21:18

Indeed, so seriously is the risk considered for tourists

0:21:180:21:21

that an app has been launched called Signalement Tique

0:21:210:21:25

which translates as "tick alert".

0:21:250:21:28

With the help of people registering locations

0:21:280:21:30

where they've been bitten,

0:21:300:21:32

it's been designed to build up a map of the areas it's best to avoid.

0:21:320:21:36

An English version recently came out

0:21:360:21:38

so that non-French-speaking visitors can use it too.

0:21:380:21:42

In other destinations, however,

0:21:420:21:44

you might just need to keep your wits about you.

0:21:440:21:47

So, back in his lab

0:21:470:21:48

at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,

0:21:480:21:51

Dr Logan has advice on what to look out for.

0:21:510:21:54

If you're in the countryside,

0:21:560:21:57

and particularly if you're in an area where there's lots of deer

0:21:570:22:00

and there's fairly sort of long, longish grass,

0:22:000:22:03

that's the kind of place where you're likely to pick up a tick.

0:22:030:22:06

And anybody can pick up a tick.

0:22:060:22:07

They do a behaviour called questing.

0:22:070:22:09

So they climb to the edge of vegetation

0:22:090:22:11

and they put their front legs out

0:22:110:22:12

and as you walk past, they'll cling on.

0:22:120:22:14

Once that the tick has found a place on your skin

0:22:160:22:18

in which to bury itself,

0:22:180:22:20

it's then than it can potentially pass on Lyme disease,

0:22:200:22:23

and Dr Logan has drafted in an assistant

0:22:230:22:25

to demonstrate how they do it.

0:22:250:22:28

So we're just going to put the tick

0:22:280:22:29

onto the start line of your hand here.

0:22:290:22:31

And what it should do is start to climb upwards.

0:22:310:22:34

That's what we call questing behaviour.

0:22:340:22:36

And it does that because it's trying to find a place to feed on

0:22:360:22:39

on your blood, essentially, a nice, warm, sweaty place.

0:22:390:22:42

So it has these sort of sensing organs

0:22:420:22:44

on its legs called the Haller's organ,

0:22:440:22:46

and it uses that to detect carbon dioxide

0:22:460:22:48

and other chemicals given off the skin.

0:22:480:22:50

So your arm at the moment smells really attractive to a tick.

0:22:500:22:53

And you can see, actually, it's turned around

0:22:530:22:55

and it's starting to head north now, isn't it?

0:22:550:22:57

So if you're planning to venture into the countryside this year,

0:22:570:23:01

either in the UK or in Europe, James advises some simple precautions

0:23:010:23:05

to keep the ticks at bay.

0:23:050:23:07

So there are lots of ways that you can protect yourself against ticks.

0:23:070:23:11

So you can tuck your trousers into your socks,

0:23:110:23:13

which stops them being able to get in. You can wear wellies as well.

0:23:130:23:16

And of course if it's the middle of summer and it's really hot,

0:23:160:23:18

you can use insect repellents and they work really well,

0:23:180:23:21

so you can spray them on the skin or on your clothing.

0:23:210:23:25

As Dr Logan has demonstrated before,

0:23:250:23:28

the most effective repellents are the ones that contain deet.

0:23:280:23:31

It smells quite nice to us, actually, doesn't it?

0:23:310:23:34

But to a tick, hopefully, it won't smell very nice.

0:23:340:23:38

Once deet has been applied, the tick will quickly change its mind

0:23:380:23:42

and be repelled away from your skin.

0:23:420:23:44

So it's definitely not as active, this one, is it?

0:23:440:23:46

-No.

-It's slowly making its way up,

0:23:460:23:48

but it's actually starting to go sideways now.

0:23:480:23:51

And it's not sticking its legs out,

0:23:510:23:53

you know, it's not actually doing that sort of characteristic

0:23:530:23:56

sort of questing behaviour.

0:23:560:23:58

So that's three minutes.

0:23:580:23:59

The repellent was applied down to this line here,

0:23:590:24:01

on your arm, this middle line.

0:24:010:24:03

It hasn't even crossed that line.

0:24:030:24:05

So it absolutely is being repelled by this, so this passes the test.

0:24:050:24:09

This repellent works against ticks.

0:24:090:24:11

And if the worst happens and you do find a tick on your body,

0:24:110:24:15

here's how to get rid of it safely.

0:24:150:24:18

So the best way to remove a tick is to use a very,

0:24:180:24:21

very fine pair of tweezers, not the ones you pluck your eyebrows with,

0:24:210:24:24

but a very fine pair of tweezers that you can buy in

0:24:240:24:27

sort of outdoor shops.

0:24:270:24:28

Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward,

0:24:280:24:33

quite firmly upwards.

0:24:330:24:35

So, no twisting with the tweezers.

0:24:350:24:38

You can also buy tools that kind of look like

0:24:380:24:40

a sort of claw of a hammer, for example,

0:24:400:24:43

and you can use those to grab the tick, again, near the skin,

0:24:430:24:47

and with those ones you do twist.

0:24:470:24:49

So those are the two main best methods to remove a tick.

0:24:490:24:53

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when removing a tick

0:24:540:24:58

is not to kill or try to harm it

0:24:580:25:00

as this can cause the tick to secrete more of

0:25:000:25:03

its toxins into your bloodstream.

0:25:030:25:05

That may well have happened to Veronika when she scraped

0:25:050:25:08

the tick off her skin, something she now really regrets.

0:25:080:25:12

If I could take the time back,

0:25:120:25:14

I would be much more aware about ticks,

0:25:140:25:17

how to prevent ticks in the first place,

0:25:170:25:19

if you have got bitten, how to remove the tick safely

0:25:190:25:24

and what to look for after.

0:25:240:25:27

So if a week after I got bitten by a tick,

0:25:270:25:32

after that I got flu-like symptoms, I know I need treatment now...

0:25:320:25:38

..immediately.

0:25:380:25:40

And while Veronika continues to struggle with the consequences

0:25:410:25:45

of being bitten, she wants to raise awareness

0:25:450:25:48

so that no other holiday-maker has to deal with that too.

0:25:480:25:52

A year ago, I was a completely healthy, fit mother,

0:25:520:25:56

who just would never stop, you know,

0:25:560:25:58

I loved my job, I looked after children, you know?

0:25:580:26:01

I was running every day and I was just happy.

0:26:010:26:04

And a year later, I'm 35 and I feel like I'm 70 years old.

0:26:040:26:11

Still to come on Rip-Off Britain,

0:26:200:26:21

our travel experts are tackling your holiday problems to do with

0:26:210:26:26

everything from lost luggage

0:26:260:26:27

to flight delays at our annual pop-up shop.

0:26:270:26:32

So I would argue that as a gesture of goodwill,

0:26:320:26:35

the airline should be giving you that money back.

0:26:350:26:39

Our travel expert, Simon Calder,

0:26:420:26:44

is full of the secrets that save you money on your travels.

0:26:440:26:47

He is full of tips on everything from how to avoid the crowds

0:26:470:26:51

to the best way to steer clear of those tourist traps.

0:26:510:26:54

This time, South Africa.

0:26:540:26:56

Bleak midwinter in the UK spells the height of summer in South Africa.

0:26:580:27:02

And with flights from Britain surprisingly affordable,

0:27:020:27:05

a holiday there could be more within reach than you think.

0:27:050:27:08

But make sure that you've got the correct paperwork sorted out

0:27:080:27:11

well in advance of your trip.

0:27:110:27:12

Plenty of families head for South Africa but very sadly

0:27:120:27:15

some of them get no further than the airport check-in desk.

0:27:150:27:19

Strict rules intended to combat child trafficking mean that every

0:27:190:27:24

traveller under 18 must have an unabridged birth certificate.

0:27:240:27:29

And it's the full, unabridged version that is needed

0:27:290:27:32

with both parents' details listed.

0:27:320:27:34

Without this, you're not going anywhere.

0:27:340:27:36

And unless both natural parents are travelling with the child,

0:27:360:27:41

it gets even more complicated, with legal affidavits required,

0:27:410:27:45

so do your homework, and bear in mind that this applies

0:27:450:27:49

even if you're only changing planes in South Africa

0:27:490:27:53

en route to another southern African nation.

0:27:530:27:56

Thank you.

0:27:560:27:57

But the hassle of getting into the country is certainly worth it.

0:27:580:28:02

And if wildlife is your thing, or quite frankly even if it isn't,

0:28:020:28:05

booking a safari is a must,

0:28:050:28:07

as the country has lots of record-breaking animals,

0:28:070:28:10

including the cheetah, the fastest land mammal,

0:28:100:28:13

the largest bird, the ostrich,

0:28:130:28:16

the tallest animal, the giraffe,

0:28:160:28:18

and of course the largest land mammal, elephants.

0:28:180:28:21

South Africa is a marvellous destination for close encounters

0:28:210:28:25

with wildlife, and because most of the National Parks

0:28:250:28:29

are free of malaria,

0:28:290:28:30

it's a great family-friendly safari destination.

0:28:300:28:35

However, mosquitoes can carry all manner of other nasty diseases.

0:28:350:28:39

So one word - repellent.

0:28:390:28:41

No, not me, what to slap on as sunset approaches.

0:28:410:28:46

And once off the safari track,

0:28:460:28:48

getting about the rest of the country by car is straightforward.

0:28:480:28:52

South Africa has the longest wine route in the world,

0:28:520:28:55

stretching from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.

0:28:550:28:58

The route spans more than 530 miles,

0:28:580:29:01

with more vineyards than you can shake a stick at.

0:29:010:29:03

Though as a tourist you'll stand out like a sore thumb,

0:29:030:29:06

so stick to main roads and well-lit areas to avoid being targeted

0:29:060:29:11

by robbers, and drive carefully.

0:29:110:29:13

Before you decide to rent a car in South Africa,

0:29:130:29:16

bear in mind that driving can be very dangerous.

0:29:160:29:19

Relative to the population,

0:29:190:29:21

the road death toll in South Africa is nine times worse than in Britain.

0:29:210:29:26

In fact, if driving seems too daunting,

0:29:270:29:30

then take a professionally run tour company that takes in

0:29:300:29:32

all the sites as well as offering you some security.

0:29:320:29:36

The freedom to do what you want may also be an option.

0:29:360:29:39

The Foreign Office warns there's a high incidence of credit card fraud

0:29:390:29:42

in South Africa and so do I.

0:29:420:29:45

Last time I was there I paid for a meal,

0:29:450:29:47

my card was taken to a back office for "processing".

0:29:470:29:51

Next thing I knew, it had been skimmed,

0:29:510:29:54

all the details used to create a new forged card with the villains

0:29:540:29:58

starting spending my money.

0:29:580:30:00

So never, ever let your card out of your sight.

0:30:000:30:04

We get scores of letters and e-mails from people telling us about

0:30:130:30:17

the problems that they've had with either travel or holiday plans,

0:30:170:30:21

which means that whenever we come to our pop-up shop,

0:30:210:30:24

our travel guru, Simon Calder,

0:30:240:30:25

is always inundated with people who are just asking for his help.

0:30:250:30:29

So this year he's been joined by Emma Colthurst

0:30:290:30:33

and between them they really have helped

0:30:330:30:35

dozens of people with their travel problems.

0:30:350:30:38

Among the people who came to see Emma was Shelley,

0:30:430:30:46

who had particular needs for her last holiday

0:30:460:30:49

but right from the start things didn't quite go to plan.

0:30:490:30:52

The first thing was, we got on the plane,

0:30:530:30:56

and we were put in front of a cupboard

0:30:560:30:59

and I couldn't even move my legs.

0:30:590:31:01

I can't sit for too long without stiffening up,

0:31:010:31:04

so I have to stretch my legs and I couldn't do it.

0:31:040:31:06

You might think a cramped seat is just one of those things.

0:31:070:31:11

But as Shelley suffers from back and knee problems,

0:31:110:31:14

she'd deliberately paid extra

0:31:140:31:15

so that she would have more room on the flight.

0:31:150:31:18

We'd bought extra-legroom tickets.

0:31:180:31:20

So it literally said extra legroom.

0:31:200:31:23

Was it any different than a normal seat, then?

0:31:230:31:25

No. Not at all.

0:31:250:31:27

Did you see better seats with legroom on the plane?

0:31:270:31:30

Yes, I've always had those.

0:31:300:31:32

And the travel agent who we've booked with for years

0:31:320:31:35

knows my profile. So they know what I expect.

0:31:350:31:39

So I don't understand how we got pushed over there.

0:31:390:31:42

They were just like ordinary seats.

0:31:420:31:45

Shelley has tried asking her travel agent why she was put in

0:31:450:31:48

such bad seats but was told it was out of their hands.

0:31:480:31:51

But Emma doesn't think she should leave it at that.

0:31:510:31:55

So I think in terms of what you can do,

0:31:550:31:57

you can contact the airline directly.

0:31:570:31:59

Go straight to the airline, that's one thing I haven't done.

0:31:590:32:02

And say, you know, I don't feel that we got the adequate legroom

0:32:020:32:06

and we didn't get the same amount of legroom, we wouldn't have paid for that.

0:32:060:32:10

-No.

-Because you want your money back, don't you?

0:32:100:32:12

-Yeah.

-Presumably. The extra that you paid.

0:32:120:32:14

If you want to, you could take it up with CEDR.

0:32:140:32:17

The Centre for Effected Dispute Resolution.

0:32:170:32:19

They will look at it independently and provide you with a binding judgment.

0:32:190:32:22

But that will cost you £25 if you are unsuccessful,

0:32:220:32:26

so you will need to weigh up how much that will cost you, is it worth it.

0:32:260:32:29

But complain to the airline.

0:32:290:32:30

-Yeah.

-And see if you can get your money back.

0:32:300:32:33

But all of that was just the start of her problems.

0:32:330:32:36

Due to her back and leg issues,

0:32:360:32:38

Shelley had asked her travel agent for a resort that is all on one level.

0:32:380:32:42

But the hotel she had been put in was totally unsuitable.

0:32:420:32:46

Lunch, you have to go downstairs...

0:32:460:32:50

..to the beach restaurant.

0:32:500:32:53

Right. Is there a lift? No.

0:32:540:32:57

How do I get there? Well, there was 25 steps, which were my nightmare.

0:32:570:33:04

Every day was my nightmare.

0:33:040:33:06

And sometimes I would just get so upset about it because it hurts...

0:33:060:33:11

I had to go down there otherwise I didn't eat.

0:33:110:33:14

There were steps that you couldn't avoid.

0:33:140:33:16

So did you speak to someone in the hotel?

0:33:160:33:19

-Yes.

-Who did you speak to?

-I spoke to the reps and they said that

0:33:190:33:24

they would try and sort something out for me.

0:33:240:33:27

One day they said, "Well, if you want,

0:33:270:33:30

"we can bring the food up for you."

0:33:300:33:32

But it was a buffet. So how can they bring the food up?

0:33:320:33:37

They would bring a little bit of everything upstairs?

0:33:370:33:40

Very, very frustrating.

0:33:400:33:42

Emma says to make sure you don't find yourself in a situation

0:33:420:33:45

where you have been promised something that wasn't delivered,

0:33:450:33:48

try to write down your requirements.

0:33:480:33:51

The best thing to do, and it is hard to do it,

0:33:520:33:55

is to speak to the operator of the holiday,

0:33:550:33:57

even contact them directly and say these are my stipulations,

0:33:570:34:00

it is really important that there is step-free access

0:34:000:34:03

and that my needs are catered for.

0:34:030:34:06

And then try and get something in writing from the tour operator.

0:34:060:34:09

-Yes.

-So don't rely on somebody in the travel agent's,

0:34:090:34:12

because the problem you have got is her word against yours.

0:34:120:34:15

After complaining to the travel agent,

0:34:150:34:17

Shelley was offered £100 off the next holiday that she booked

0:34:170:34:21

with the same tour operator.

0:34:210:34:22

She doesn't think that's enough and wants to know what else she should try.

0:34:220:34:26

Go to the trade body, which is ABTA,

0:34:260:34:28

the Association of British Travel Agents.

0:34:280:34:30

If the tour operator don't give you a response you are happy with,

0:34:300:34:34

ABTA will look at it and bring you and the member together as such,

0:34:340:34:38

-so do that.

-Thank you. I will. I will. Thank you very much.

0:34:380:34:43

In the end, Shelley didn't take her complaint any further due to the fee

0:34:430:34:47

that she would have been charged to take her case to arbitration.

0:34:470:34:50

She has however since had two holidays that did go to plan

0:34:500:34:54

but she didn't book them with the same travel agent

0:34:540:34:57

or tour operator.

0:34:570:34:58

Our pop-up shop isn't just about tackling your problems face-to-face.

0:35:030:35:07

Our experts love being let loose to pass on nuggets of advice

0:35:070:35:12

or to get a sense of the things that wind you up.

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Now, can I ask you a couple of quick questions about travel?

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What from your point of view is the worst part of a flight?

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The size of the seats and the legroom is a real bugbear.

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Really, really bad. They should just...

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You know, I have been long haul, and when you are long haul,

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you can cross your legs and you can spread out a bit more.

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But when you are just going... We are going to Crete this year.

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When you are sat on a plane for three, four hours,

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just a bit more legroom. It would just be fabulous.

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That is the worst part. Apart from that, I love it.

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One of the problems that a lot of you wanted to talk to us about was

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flight delays and specifically where you stand

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when it comes to compensation.

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Chris and Marian say the start of their two-week holiday was

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ruined by a long delay.

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We were booked on a cruise, going to Dubai from Manchester Airport.

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When we finally did set off and we arrived at Dubai

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we were told there was fog.

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Basically what had to happen is they took us to a municipal airport,

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where they allowed us to land.

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But we sat on the aircraft for five-and-a-half hours.

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According to the couple,

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the airport they landed at was only 45 minutes' drive from Dubai.

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So rather than make everyone sit around for hours,

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they reckon it would have been easier to lay on a coach and get everyone to the city.

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How long from when you should have been landing at Dubai do

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-you think it was when you...?

-We were basically 12 hours late.

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-Around 12.

-12 hours late.

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As the flight was from the EU,

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because the delay was more than three hours,

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compensation is due if the airline can't argue

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that an exceptional circumstance caused the hold-up.

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And while Chris accepts that the fog was out of the airline's control,

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the couple's frustrations are more to do with how the airline handled

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everything after that.

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The fog is an act of God.

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Sitting on a runway for five hours 35 minutes is not an act of God.

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It is incompetence from the airline.

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-Have you heard anything from the airline?

-Yeah.

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They are not going to give us anything.

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Again, Emma suggests that one of the dispute resolution services

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that is active in the industry might be the way to go.

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And the Civil Aviation Authority has template letters on its website

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to help you make a case for compensation.

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Someone else who came to tell us about a long delay

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was Kathleen Payton,

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who wanted to share her experiences

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with Simon Calder and solicitor Gary Rycroft.

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Tell us what happened.

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In 2014, myself,

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my husband and two friends were flying from Alicante to Manchester.

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The flight was delayed for seven hours.

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-Oh, how annoying.

-A little bit annoying.

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So I thought I would look at trying to claim compensation.

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But despite sending ten letters over two years,

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she wasn't any closer to getting her money back.

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And it was only when she sought help from a solicitor that she finally

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managed to squeeze £1,300 from the airline.

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The airlines are doing different things.

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Some of them are saying, "All right, we hate these rules,

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"we think they are really unfair,

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"but we are going to pay out straightaway."

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Others are just saying, "We are going to fight you every step of the way."

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And they are doing that because for everybody like Kath,

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who is saying, "No, you owe me some money,"

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there are probably ten people who just think, "Oh, forget it."

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Over in our gripe corner,

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there were plenty of other travel grievances

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you wanted to get off your chest.

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What infuriates us is when you pay for a flight to go on holiday,

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if you get a good deal,

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sometimes the baggage can cost more than the flights.

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We booked a holiday, my husband put the wrong name on,

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we needed to change the name.

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They are charging us double.

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What really annoys me is the price of holidays

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during the school holidays.

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It trebles in price and it is absolutely ridiculous.

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That last complaint came up a lot,

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as did another perennial problem, lost luggage,

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which is something Hannah Palfreyman knows about only too well.

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We flew out first thing, bank holiday weekend last year.

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The case was over...overweight, so we had to pay an extra fee.

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And when we landed, the case wasn't fortunate enough to land with us.

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-That's the worst feeling.

-But as if losing the bag wasn't bad enough,

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Hannah doesn't feel that the airline staff seemed especially bothered.

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And as far as she is concerned,

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they did nothing to track down where the bag had gone.

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When you got to the customer service desk of the airline,

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what did they say?

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It wasn't the company's fault. It was the baggage handlers' fault.

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You were really let down.

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They should have been phoning you at your hotel to keep you informed,

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to let you know where the bag is.

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Do you think the airline took responsibility?

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No. In fact, they even told me

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if I referred to their terms and conditions,

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it was in their terms and conditions that they weren't

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responsible for any luggage that goes missing.

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Well, that wasn't correct.

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Airlines are responsible for missing luggage and Hannah should have been

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asked to fill out what is called a property irregularity report to

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register the bag as lost.

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Well, I'm hoping the bag was found.

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It was located in Manchester Airport

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and the guy on the phone who my brother's partner spoke to

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was really helpful and said that the case was next to him.

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And they made sure it stayed in Manchester Airport

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for when we got home.

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But appalled at how she had been treated

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by the airline staff in Spain,

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once she was home, Hannah made an official complaint.

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I wrote to the airline and they sent me a response and said that the

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complaint had been dealt with.

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How long ago was that?

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-Ten months... Ten months ago?

-OK.

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Unfortunately, there isn't any compensation for delayed bags.

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You paid that £40 excess charge and that bag never travelled.

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-I know.

-So I would argue that as a gesture of goodwill,

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the airline should be giving you that money back.

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And at last, that is now what has happened.

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Shortly after she came to our pop-up shop,

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Hannah received a refund from the airline covering the cost

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of the check-in luggage and excess weight charge totalling £65.

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And that's great news for her.

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And while it really shouldn't have taken so much time and effort to claim back the money,

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it just reinforces that it is worth keeping going with a complaint.

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Don't give up if you haven't immediately had the right answer.

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Rip-Off Britain wouldn't be here without your stories

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and we've got plenty of ways that you can get in touch.

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Send us an e-mail...

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Or write to us at...

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But please don't send original copies of any documents.

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And even if you haven't got a story you would like us to investigate,

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you can still join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

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Just search BBC Rip-Off Britain.

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I must tell you, my heart goes out to anyone who has been through

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the same sort of experiences as the people we have heard from today.

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You know, to be stuck with an illness that started from a simple tick bite

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but then developed into a situation that has had such huge side-effects

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must be so debilitating.

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But I suppose the good news is that at least now

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we all know the signs and symptoms to look out for.

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And I have to say, for me at least,

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every one of these stories has been a very timely reminder that whilst

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holidays of course are supposed to be a time when you can relax,

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that doesn't actually mean that you can just throw caution to the wind

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and completely let your guard down.

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Absolutely. Well, do please keep sending us your stories to investigate,

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not just about holidays but on any of the topics that we cover on

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the various Rip-Off Britain programmes throughout the year.

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We have plenty more coming up, which is great, but that's it for now.

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We will be back with more of your stories soon, so until then,

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-from all of us, goodbye.

-Goodbye.

-Bye-bye.

0:43:180:43:20

Julia Somerville, Gloria Hunniford and Angela Rippon investigate stories to do with staying safe on your travels, revealing how the shortage of a vital health jab could lead to holidaymakers planning to visit some top destinations having to pay increased costs.

Also, with cases of illness spread by insect bites rocketing across Europe, the team identifies what to do to avoid getting bitten.

Simon Calder has tips and advice on visiting South Africa, and a bumper crop of viewers' problems are tackled at the programme's pop-up advice clinic.