Eight boys have been rescued from the Thailand cave where they've been trapped for two weeks. Four more boys and their coach remain in the cave. The world has been waiting with bated breath for the boys to be saved.
For the boys who have already reached the surface, the fight may not be over. According to ABC News, officials said at least two of the first four boys rescued on Sunday appear to be suffering from lung infections. They currently do not have fevers.
The severe weather conditions, severe body stresses, and intense emotional distress of being trapped for days in the dark without knowing if they'll be rescued, and wet caverns, all combined to open them up to infection. According to ABC, they were exposed to a dangerous and rare infection, often called "cave disease."
Cave disease, which is also referred to as speleonosis, is an infection of a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. It was identified in the 1940s as a disease that affected a group of men who camped in an abandoned storm cellar.
The fungus is naturally found all around the world. It appears in the caves of Asia but also in the riverbanks to the Mississippi River. It grows in soil.
People who are suspected to have histoplasmosis receive intensive testing. Testing the Urine and blood, as well as lung or other tissue, can help detect it. X-rays and CT scans are also used.
"Caves are known to be special breeding grounds for Histoplasmosis, with unique environments that can provide an ideal home for the fungus," explains ABC. "With more than two million people each year exploring caves, or spelunking, it is becoming an increasingly common cause of infection."
Most people exposed to Histoplasmosis don't get sick. Those who do get flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, extreme tiredness, chills, headache, body aches or chest pain.
A person with a compromised immune system may have severe symptoms and the disease may spread to the brain. Severe infections can cause death.
A person with a weaker immune system, such as someone with uncontrolled HIV or undergoing cancer treatment, may develop more severe symptoms, such as confusion, as the disease spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body like the brain. Severe infections can cause death.
Cave disease resolves itself over time, without medication, for most people. For those with weaker immune systems, there is antiviral mediation.
Please pray for the boys as they recover from being in the cave for such an extended time. May God cover them in His blessings and love.