Hammamet beach in Tunisia, near to where the couple stayed. REUTERS/Anis Mili

London - A British holidaymaker is launching legal action against a travel company claiming his break to Tunisia was ruined after he contracted cholera.

Tim Warner was on a romantic getaway with his partner Amanda Dworak when he claims to have been hit by the infection.

The 47-year-old alleges he suffered diarrhoea throughout the £1,488 (about R26 5000, 12-day break at the Sol Azur Hotel, and was doubled over in pain throughout the trip.

Warner believed it to be food poisoning but visited a doctor when the symptoms continued after he returned home. He was diagnosed with cholera - a bacterial infection caused by eating food which has been in contact with faeces.

The architect, from Telford, Shropshire, said the first thing the couple noticed when they arrived at the three-star hotel in September 2013, was the smell of 'raw sewage'.

'We arrived in the middle of the night, and the first thing we noticed was the smell of raw sewage - it was absolutely unbelievable,' he said.

'Halfway through the holiday we'd had enough and the travel rep, to their credit, moved us to the other side of the complex so the sea wind would waft it away.

'Even then, when we went down to the pool area, we had to pinch our noses with our finger and thumb.'

Warner also claimed that part-way through the holiday, which was booked with Thomas Cook, the hotel's all-inclusive restaurant had to be closed.

But he claims by then he had already fallen ill.

‘After a few days we got back and I still felt ill so went to the doctors,' Warner said.

'They took a stool sample, and a week later told me I had cholera - I was utterly gobsmacked.

'When I went back, the doctor told me the fact I was able to visit him a week previous that I was through the worst.

'I remember him saying if I was going to die, I would have done so by then.'

The couple contacted Thomas Cook but said they were unhappy with the tour operator's response, and have launched civil action through solicitors Slater & Gordon.

Tim said: 'Thomas Cook tried to tell us nobody else had complained about being ill, but we knew of at least six more people who were hit by the bacteria.

Even if they didn't complain to the travel operator, everybody was talking about it around the pool.

'The hotel was without doubt the worst I've ever had the misfortune of staying in.'

Mark Montaldo, specialist travel lawyer with Slater & Gordon, said: 'This was meant to be a relaxing and romantic getaway but instead the holiday was ruined when Tim was left severely ill with a potentially life threatening illness.

'The accommodation for the guests was clearly not of an acceptable standard which ultimately resulted in Tim becoming very ill.

'The cholera not only ruined the holiday but has already left him with a severe case of irritable bowel syndrome which persists to this day and is making his life very difficult.

'It is simply unacceptable that any holidaymaker should have to suffer this way.'

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said: 'The health and safety of our customers is always our primary concern, so we were naturally very concerned to hear that Mr Warner became unwell while he was on holiday with us.

'As we are in the process of liaising directly with Mr Warner's legal representative in relation to this, we are unable to provide any further comment at this time so as not to unduly influence any possible future legal proceedings.'

Only 12 cases of cholera were reported in England and Wales in 2012.- Daily Mail