Ludlow Legionnaires' family demand answers over death

image copyrightIrwin Mitchell
image captionElaine Brown, left, pictured with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren, stayed at the hotel in July

The family of a woman who died after contracting Legionnaires' disease say more could have been done to save her.

Elaine Brown, 69, from Liverpool, died in August after a stay at The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, Shropshire.

Her death came months after another guest caught the disease but Public Health England did not tell anyone.

Mrs Brown's family said she would not have stayed at the hotel had she known. The hotel is closed and was unavailable for comment.

image copyrightIrwin Mitchell
image captionGraham and Elaine Brown, pictured here on their wedding day, were on a coach excursion

The hotel voluntarily shut in the summer when Public Health England found a link with legionella bacteria in its water samples.

The first case in April involved a hotel guest from Merseyside who subsequently recovered.

Mrs Brown and her husband Graham stayed at the hotel on 31 July as part of a coach tour.

Mr Brown said they had booked their stay "without any knowledge whatsoever" of the previous case.

"If we had been told about the case of Legionnaires' disease in April, there is absolutely no chance that we would have stayed there," he said.

image copyrightGoogle maps
image captionThe Feathers Hotel has a "complex" water system, according to Public Health England

Jatinder Paul, associate solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said the family were angry because they felt Mrs Brown's death was "avoidable".

Public Health England said it had not issued a statement following the April legionella finding because its communications were "reactive".

"If we get a media inquiry about the situation, we will respond," a spokesperson said. "There were no media inquiries, so no response issued."

They said the local authority had issued an improvement notice following the first discovery, and remedial work on the hotel's water system was carried out.

It said the hotel had been closed since 13 September and will only reopen once further work on the water system is found to be satisfactory.

Legionnaires' disease

  • A potentially fatal lung infection caused by legionella bacteria
  • It is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person-to-person
  • It is caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water
  • Initial symptoms include a high fever and muscle pain
  • It is treated by intravenous antibiotics
  • Legionella bacteria are commonly found in sources of water, such as rivers and lakes, which sometimes find their way into artificial water supply systems
  • NHS advice is that large buildings such as hotels, hospitals and office blocks are more vulnerable to legionella contamination because they have larger, more complex water supply systems and the bacteria can quickly spread
  • Legionnaires' disease is three times more common in men than women and mostly affects people aged over 50
  • An estimated 10% of people who contract the disease will die from complications arising from infection

Source: NHS

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