Finally released from the cave in which they remained stuck for 17 days, the twelve boys and their trainer must now remain under surveillance, in isolation, at Chiang Rai Hospital, Thailand.
It was a perilous mission, even described as "impossible" by the head of the Crisis Staff. She was finally successful. Tuesday, July 20, the 12 boys aged 11 to 16 stuck in a cave in Tham Luang Nang No, Thailand, were finally all rescued, as well as their football coach. It had been almost two weeks since the rescuers were heroically taking turns - one of them even paid for it with his life - to get them safe and sound. The last to be rescued will have spent 17 days there.
Out of the exhaust operation weakened, weakened but overall healthy, children and their coaches must however prepare for a new period of isolation.
In isolation for a week
Transferred to the Chiang Rai hospital, adolescents should stay at least a week in isolation, behind a window, said public health officials at a press conference given during the rescue of the first four children. These all had low body temperature and two were treated for a "minor" lung infection, stabilized with antibiotics.
Survivors will also have to gradually reintroduce solid foods into their diet and wear sunglasses to protect their vision after spending long days in complete darkness.
Rescued Sunday, July 8 by the divers, the first four boys were allowed to see their family through a glass while doctors continue to conduct comprehensive health exams and monitor the boys for any contagious disease. The psychologists have judged them in a good mental state, but do not yet allow them to watch television. A telephone line was also installed in their room so that they could communicate with their parents.
"Cave Disease" and "Rat Disease"
What doctors fear now is that teenagers have been exposed to infections in the cave, including histoplasmosis. Known as "cavern disease", it is a fungal infection caused by inhalation of spores from a fungus found in bird and bat droppings. They may also have been exposed to leptospirosis, a bacterial disease transmitted by animals via their urine, especially rats.
Teens and their coach have also been vaccinated against tetanus and rabies. The risk of having been bitten in their sleep by bats, vectors of the disease, is however very weak.
But it can not be ruled out that a cut or scratch while the children were making their way through the waters of the cave could cause an infection. "What worries us most is the infections," a doctor who was involved in the rescue operation told Reuters. "There are all kinds of diseases in the cave, bats, contaminated water, everything is very dirty."
In addition, children may have been exposed to more common diseases, such as dysentery or gastroenteritis, by drinking water from the cave. Finally, doctors reported that they were monitoring the mental health of boys because of the stress they faced when trapped underground and not knowing if they would be rescued or not.