IT was a summer that those of us who were around and old enough to take notice will not have forgotten.

In cricket the England captain was the South African born-Tony Greig, a man not lacking in self-esteem who threatened to make the touring West Indian team grovel.

Instead the men from the Caribbean won the series 3-0 and so started a prolonged period in which that team dominated the sport.

Meanwhile at Wimbledon a young man from Sweden, whom women of a certain age will certainly remember, caused a major upset. Bjorn Borg beat the strong favourite Ilie Nastase to mark the start of a long run of success.

But what people will remember most was the remarkable hot weather with 16 consecutive days at more than 30 degrees centigrade and 15 above 90 degrees in Fahrenheit and five days at an incredible 95 Fahrenheit.

There was also a prolonged period of drought resulting in Forest fires, a ‘plague’ of seven-spotted ladybirds and reservoirs running dry in some cases uncovering villages and hamlets that had been flooded.

Dennis Howell MP was appointed with special responsibility for managing the consequences of the hot weather.

It was before the age of rolling news and so no-one took too much notice when reports came in of strange happenings in faraway Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

While we sweltered in the UK a group of 2,000 legionnaires were meeting for a convention in the Belleview Stafford Hotel.

They had come together to mark the 200th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence. It lasted three days and three days later an Air Force veteran died with what was thought to have been a heart attack.

There was another death the following day and within a week 130 who attended the event had been hospitalised and 25 had died. In the end there would be 29 deaths.

A link was made and an investigation followed, complicated by an initial belief that swine flu was responsible. It was not until January 1977 that the Legionella bacterium was identified and found to be growing in a water system linked to the hotel’s air-conditioning system.

The bacteria lives in water and people can become infected by breathing in mist or water droplets. It cannot be passed from human to human like colds or flu.

People will usually become unwell within about a week of contracting the condition but the incubation period can be between two days and three weeks.

It is legionella that is involved in the temporary closure of the historic Feathers Hotel in Ludlow.

Most people who become affected will suffer flu like symptoms and will get better after being unwell for a relatively short period. But a significant minority will become very unwell with pneumonia type symptoms such as a persistent cough, chest pains and difficulty with breathing. It can also result in septic shock when the immune system goes into overdrive.

Older people are more vulnerable because of the weakening of the immune system as are those with pre-existing health conditions and smokers.

Treatment is with antibiotics and it can be several weeks before victims feel completely better.

It is a serious, notifiable illness and doctors who diagnose the condition must report it to the local authority.