ENVIRONMENTAL health officers are investigating a Bournemouth hotel after a holidaymaker fell gravely ill with Legionnaires' disease following a stay in the town.

Officers have visited the as yet unnamed hotel and samples taken from the premises are currently being tested for signs of the potentially deadly legionella bacteria.

It comes after 74-year-old Peter Apps from Kent became critically ill days after returning from a week's visit to the town - during which he stayed in an ensuite room at a Bournemouth hotel.

His brother Mike Apps' told the Echo Peter had begun to experience flu like symptoms days after returning home to Sittingbourne in Kent at the beginning of October. Within 48 hours he had collapsed and was rushed to hospital where his condition deteriorated. He was put into a medically induced coma as doctors battled to stabilise him. At one stage his family were called into hospital to say their goodbyes.

Peter, a retired lorry driver, suffered a collapsed lung and three infections. He was put on kidney dialysis when the organs failed to cope. Only now, three weeks on, is he beginning to recover - although his family have been told he will remain in critical care for another week at least.

His brother Mike, 64, said: "It was horrendous - absolutely horrendous. He's my last surviving sibling and to have him at death's door - it's been harrowing three weeks for all the family."

A site excellence manager at a food storage and distribution company, Mike himself is responsible for carrying out the tests and measures to ensure legionella is not allowed to grow at his Kent depot.

He added: "If someone hasn't done their checks properly they need to be taken to task over it - no ifs and buts about it."

Louise Jones, environmental health manager, Bournemouth Borough Council, said: “We are investigating a legionella report received from Public Health England relating to a person that stayed in a Bournemouth hotel. Officers are carrying out visits to the hotel and have taken a number of samples from the premises.

"It is too early to say as to whether the suggested link exists and we are awaiting the results of the samples."

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria which can grow in water systems maintained at certain temperature. It is contracted by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air containing the bacteria.

Cases must be reported to Public Health England (PHE). A spokesman for PHE said no other cases had been reported in the area.