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Mandela, 94, battles lung infection

Nelson Mandela remains susceptible to lung infections in part because of his 27 years in prison.

AFP/Getty Images/file 2010

Nelson Mandela remains susceptible to lung infections in part because of his 27 years in prison.

JOHANNESBURG — Military doctors are treating South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela for a recurring lung infection, an ailment the 94-year-old antiapartheid leader remains susceptible to because of his age and his 27 years in prison.

Government officials acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that the illness forced soldiers to admit Mandela to a military hospital on Saturday, though they said the politician was responding to treatment.

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Mandela fought off a similar infection in 2011 and once contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned. Medical specialists say respiratory illnesses like pneumonia in a man his age are a serious matter that require care and monitoring.

The announcement ended speculation about what was troubling Mandela. His ongoing hospitalization has caused growing concern in South Africa, a nation of 50 million people that largely reveres Mandela for being the nation’s first democratically elected president, who sought to bring the country together after centuries of racial division.

The tests that Mandela underwent near South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, detected the lung infection, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

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