Nelson Mandela 'making progress' in hospital

Young women walk by a mural depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela at Alexandra township in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday 11 December 2012 Nelson Mandela is regarded by most South Africans as the father of the nation

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South Africa's first black President Nelson Mandela, who is being treated for a lung infection, has made progress in the past 24 hours, officials say.

Mr Mandela, 94, was rushed to a military hospital in the capital, Pretoria, on Saturday.

Doctors attending him were "satisfied with the way he is responding to treatment", a statement from the President Jacob Zuma's office said.

News of the hospital stay has prompted much concern in South Africa.

Analysis

Lung infections can be caused by bacteria and viruses. They can be spread by coughs and sneezes and contact with infected surfaces like taps and door handles.

There are different names for different infections, depending on the cause and where in the airways they occur.

Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria (called Streptococcus pneumoniae) and affects the tiny air sacs at the end of the breathing tubes in your lungs.

Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways, usually caused by common cold or flu viruses.

Elderly people tend to be more prone to lung infections, as do people with existing lung conditions or a weakened immune system.

Mr Mandela has been treated in the past for the early stages of TB - an infectious disease that can damage the lungs.

Most lung infections can be treated with drugs, rest and fluids, but at the age of 94, Mr Mandela is frail and his doctors will want to keep a close eye on how his condition progresses.

Pneumonia can lead to serious complications, including respiratory failure, which can be fatal.

Mr Mandela is one of the world's best-loved figures after spending 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid

The former president - fondly referred to by his clan name, Madiba - is regarded by most South Africans as the father of the nation, having inspired them to fight for democracy.

He led the struggle against white-minority rule before being elected the first black president in democratic elections in 1994.

After his release from prison he forgave his former enemies and urged South Africans of all races to work together and seek reconciliation.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

"We continue to request that Madiba and his family be accorded the necessary space and privacy and thank the media and the public for co-operation," the statement from the presidency said.

Mr Mandela was last admitted to hospital in February when he was treated for abdominal pain.

In January 2011, he was treated for a serious chest infection.

While in prison in the 1980s, Mr Mandela was also diagnosed with tuberculosis - his lungs are said to have been damaged when he worked in a prison quarry.

Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has been rarely seen in public since.

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