Pope's illness 'just a little fever'

Pope John Paul has “just a little fever”, his spokesman said today in elaborating on a terse medical bulletin issued by the Vatican.

Pope John Paul has “just a little fever”, his spokesman said today in elaborating on a terse medical bulletin issued by the Vatican.

The Holy See had confirmed the diagnosis of the pontiff’s health problems, saying testing showed his heart and breathing indicators are normal.

It said John Paul rested for several hours during the night.

The 84-year-old Pope was being treated for respiratory problems in Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic.

He was rushed there last night from his Vatican apartment, where he had been battling the flu for several days, Vatican officials said.

The papal spokesman said John Paul was taken by ambulance to the hospital after doctors decided “he could be better treated there than here (the Vatican).”

Navarro-Valls said that as he was leaving the hospital, the Pope’s secretary was celebrating Mass in the hospital room and that John Paul was celebrating mass from his bed with the assistance of other priests.

“I’m going home, the situation is calm,” said Navarro-Valls, after spending about an hour at the Rome hospital.

Anxiety has been running high over the Pope’s Parkinson’s disease and other ailments, but spokesman Navarro-Valls said that the decision to admit him to hospital was “mainly a precaution”.

He noted the Pope was not in intensive care but in the same 10th floor suite of rooms where he has been during several previous stays at the Gemelli clinic, about 2.5 miles from the Vatican.

The Pope has the flu and acute laryngeal tracheitis, he said, acknowledging that John Paul had a “certain difficulty in breathing”.

Navarro-Valls, who has a medical degree, denied Italian news reports that John Paul had a CAT scan at the hospital.

He said more tests will be done today.

The Vatican said in an earlier statement that the Pope suffered from “an acute laryngeal tracheitis and larynx spasm crisis”.

Tracheitis, an inflammation of the trachea, requires hospitalisation and usually a breathing tube to keep the airway clear. The spasms are likely a complication from the respiratory illness he has had.

It’s possible his Parkinson’s disease has made his condition more serious and his breathing more laboured.

A close member of the Pope’s staff, US Archbishop James Harvey, said John Paul had congestion and a slight fever during the day.

The teaching hospital is where John Paul was taken when he was shot in the abdomen by a would-be assassin in 1981, and where he has undergone several operations.

The frail Polish born pontiff’s Parkinson’s disease makes his speech difficult, and he also has chronic hip and knee problems.

He was last seen in public on Sunday, when he made his regular midday appearance at his window overlooking St Peter’s Square and released a dove in a sign of peace. He appeared remarkably lively, but his words were barely audible.

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