THE iconic Feathers Hotel in Ludlow has voluntarily closed for a temporary period after being linked with Legionnaire’s disease.

It is understood that a visitor to the hotel has died of the disease and someone else taken ill.

The decision to close was taken after the involvement of Public Health England.

It is understood that water samples have been taken.

Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East and a practising nurse, is calling for Shropshire Council to hold an urgent scrutiny meeting to review the deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

“This is a very rare event. The hotel has responded by closing for the time being,” she said.

"But we need to ensure that lessons are learnt and there is no repeat anywhere else in Shropshire.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the county. I desperately hope that no-one else who stayed at the Feathers has been affected by this nasty pathogen.

“We need to understand why this occurred. We need to know that the right actions were taken after the presence of Legionella was discovered months ago in the hotel.

“The best way to deal with this is to call an immediate meeting of Shropshire Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee. We can then set out a work plan to ensure that we learn everything we need to learn about this tragic incident.”

Dr David Kirrage, consultant with the Public Health England West Midlands Health Protection Team, said the decision to close the hotel was to minimise any risk.

“On the discovery of the presence of Legionella at the hotel, the management implemented public health advice in order to minimise exposure to guests and staff,” he said.

“It closed the affected rooms, disinfected the water system and employed heating contractors to investigate the boilers and pipework.

“Isolated cases of Legionella infection are reported to us on a regular basis and investigated as a matter of routine.

“However results from laboratories on Monday, September 11, confirmed that the strain of Legionella located in the hotel is indistinguishable from the samples taken from the two cases.

“Extensive work is now needed to overhaul and treat the plumbing in such an old building, so that guests can fully enjoy the facilities. The hotel has decided that with such a complex building it is easier and minimises risks to the public to close the hotel temporarily to conduct remedial works.

“Environmental Health Officers at Shropshire Council will continue to take water samples from the hotel during this time to test for the bacteria.”

Legionnaire’s disease is a form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found naturally in fresh water.

It is contracted breathing in mist that contains the bacteria.

Symptoms are often similar to flu and will usually show between two to 10 days after exposure.

Antibiotics are used in treatment of the condition.

It is not known how long The Feathers will be closed.

The Feathers Hotel was constructed in 1619 and has been a hotel since 1899.

An outbreak of this disease occurred in Philadelphia in 1976, among Legionnaires attending a state convention of the American Legion and led to naming the disease after this group.

Subsequently, the bacterium causing the illness was identified and named Legionella pneumophila.