The 94-year-old former president of South Africa was admitted to the hospital for the third time in four months late Wednesday night after suffering a recurrence of a lung infection which had the Nobel Peace Prize winner in the hospital for nearly three weeks this past December. "A presidential spokesman told the BBC that Mr. Mandela was conscious and was receiving the best possible medical treatment," reads the BBC report while NBC News says he was admitted just before midnight local time (around 6 p.m. EST).
The reason people are worried is, obviously, because you worry any time a 94-year-old is hospitalized. But, it's also because back in December, Mandela spent 18 days in the hospital for what was then a recurrence of a previous lung infection. His lungs, the BBC notes, were apparently damaged during his time working in a prison quarry and Mandela, in his autobiography, said that he contracted tuberculosis—a disease which can cause permanent lung damage."This was his longest time he had been hospitalized since being released from captivity as a political prisoner in 1990," adds NBC News, which adds that he was hospitalized earlier this month as well.
Details are slim of just how bad this illness might be, though there's some good news as it sounds like Mandela's team caught the bug early. "They prefer to act on the side of caution, and the moment they felt there was a recurrence of the lung infection, they felt that it warranted immediate hospitalisation given his age and given his history, " presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj is quoted as saying in the BBC report.