Stacey Barnes, 32, and Ryan Prigg, 39, said they became feverish after the meal and caught the next flight out of the country to return to their home in Perth, where their symptoms worsened.
“Some days, I would suddenly become extremely bloated after eating something small, my stomach would just be enormous,” Ms Barnes told news.com.au. “We developed cold sores all over our face and ulcers all through our mouths.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I have to live with this, it’s not worth living at all’...I had no memory, I was really foggy…like a zombie.”
The couple told media they struggled to look after their two children and almost lost their lucrative health and lifestyle business. (See story here.)
PPHO Chief Thanit Sermkaew has responded publicly, saying that he does not believe the couple became infected by eating Pad Thai – a standard fried noodle dish – in Phuket.
“I don’t believe what the Australian couple are complaining about in the headlines. They did not become sick from eating Pad Thai. I do not think this is likely because Pad Thai requires high heat to cook,” Dr Thanit said.
Regardless, Dr Thanit has ordered Department of Disease Control officers at the Phuket health office to investigate the claims.
“I have ordered them to coordinate with all hospitals in Phuket. They will find the patient records to confirm the facts from the time that they claim this happened,” he said.
“In addition, PPHO officials will contact the Australian couple as we require more information, and I have urged all officials to intensify food control regulations to prevent any future problems,” Dr Thanit said.
Kongsak Khongphongsakorn, President of the Thailand Hotels Association Southern chapter, said, “The news has definitely affected the image of Thailand. We must have hygiene measures enforced at all in restaurants and on street food vendors
“Officials should take law enforcement [on this issue] seriously, including eliminating rodents and cockroaches from any nearby areas [where food is prepared],” he said.
If any areas where food is prepared or served were found not complying with hygiene standards, Mr Kongsak said that public health regulations must be enforced on the vendors responsible for the area.