George H. W. Bush in 2009
12/27/2012 at 12:50 PM EST
After suffering "a series of setbacks," including a "persistent fever," 88-year-old former President George H.W. Bush is in the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital, his spokesman says.
Originally admitted to Methodist Hospital on Nov. 23 with a stubborn cough related to bronchitis, Bush came down with the fever that prompted doctors to put him on a liquids-only diet this week, says spokesman Jim McGrath.
"He remains in guarded condition," says McGrath in a statement. "Doctors at Methodist continue to be cautiously optimistic about the current course of treatment. The President is alert and conversing with medical staff, and is surrounded by family."
Among those visiting the 41st president on Christmas were his wife Barbara, son Neil and a grandson. Since his hospitalization, he also has received visits from sons George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and Jeb Bush, the ex-governor of Florida, the Associated Press reports.
"He appreciates all the good wishes coming his way," his close aide, Jean Becker, says in an auto-reply to emails Thursday. "He would ask you to please put the harps away. He plans on staying put."