Published On: Mon, Jul 9th, 2018

Thailand cave rescue: Thai football team at risk of ‘CAVE DISEASE’ from dangerous fungus | World | News

The team has been trapped in the cave system for over two weeks, and the rescued boys were airlifted to Chiang Rai hospital 60 miles from the cave entrance on Sunday.

Medical experts have raised concerns surrounding the physical and mental welfare of the boys following their ordeal and their extended exposure to the cave environment.

Dr Paul Auerbach, professor of emergency medicine at Stanford University, warned the boys were at risk of developing histoplasmosis, or ‘cave disease’, which is caused by breathing in spores of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum.

Speaking to CTV News, he said: “These are spores that reside frequently in caves and are often found in the excretions of bats.

“In a person with a normal immune system, histoplasmosis usually occurs and the patient never knows that they have it.

“They may get a bit of a fever, a bit of a cough and it seems like a viral illness and it just passes. So that’s the majority of cases.

“In less common cases, it can become a more serious disease, particularly in people that suffer from any significant immuno-suppression.”

Histoplasmosis typically affects the lungs, and symptoms generally manifest themselves in three to 17 days following exposure to spores.

Its main symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, dry cough and chest discomfort.

The Mayo Clinic notes the condition can also be caught by touching soil contaminated by bird and bat droppings, which are typically found in caves.

While the condition is relatively harmless in the majority of cases, it can be serious among young and old individuals, or those with compromised immune systems.

Operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn stated yesterday the rescue mission had been suspended for the night following the extraction of the four boys, but noted the effort would resume in 10 to 20 hours.

He said: “Our operation was more successful than we expected.

“For the next operation to happen, we cannot say. It will be between 10 and 20 hours, but not over 20. But we have to evaluate all the factors.

“We have used all the oxygen. Air tanks must be put back into place.”

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