Spokesman: George H.W. Bush in intensive care

Spokesman: George H.W. Bush in intensive care

Credit: Getty Images for HBO

KENNEBUNKPORT, ME - JUNE 12: Film Subject President George H.W. Bush celebrates his 88th birthday following the HBO Documentary special screening of "41" on June 12, 2012 in Kennebunkport, Maine. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)

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Associated Press

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 27 at 12:32 AM

HOUSTON (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush has been admitted to the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital "following a series of setbacks including a persistent fever," but he is alert and talking to medical staff, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Jim McGrath, Bush's spokesman in Houston, said in a brief email that Bush was admitted to the ICU at Methodist Hospital on Sunday. He said doctors are cautiously optimistic about his treatment and that the former president "remains in guarded condition."

No other details were released about his medical condition, but McGrath said Bush is surrounded by family.

The 88-year-old has been hospitalized since Nov. 23, when he was admitted for a lingering cough related to bronchitis after having been in and out of the hospital for complications related to the illness.

Earlier Wednesday, McGrath said a fever that kept Bush in the hospital over Christmas had gotten worse and that doctors had put him on a liquids-only diet.

"It's an elevated fever, so it's actually gone up in the last day or two," McGrath told The Associated Press. "It's a stubborn fever that won't go away."

But he said the cough that initially brought Bush to the hospital has improved.

Bush, the oldest former U.S. president, was visited on Christmas by his wife, Barbara, his son, Neil, and Neil's wife, Maria, and a grandson, McGrath said. Bush's daughter, Dorothy, was expected to arrive Wednesday in Houston from Bethesda, Md. The 41st president has also been visited twice by his sons, George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.

Bush and his wife live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers at a home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The former president was a naval aviator in World War II — at one point the youngest in the Navy — and was shot down over the Pacific. He achieved notoriety in retirement for skydiving on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House in 1992.

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Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP

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