Cave diseases can be contracted from spending too much time in a cave

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. - The road to recovery has begun for the 12 boys and their soccer coach that were trapped in a cave in Thailand for two weeks. According to CNN, the victims are being tested for several "cave diseases" that can be contracted from being enclosed for that long.

"A lot of the things they were exposed to can take effect in a two to three-week range," explained Dr. Chad Williamson of DeKalb MD.

There are several illnesses that can typically occur from being trapped in a cave too long. "For one we worry about histoplasmosis, that's what they're looking for now."

Dr. Williamson said fungal infections like histoplasmosis can be contracted from almost anything. "It can be in multiple different things, not just caves, but it can be in the soil. It's in bird poop."Exposure to these fungi can lead to secondary complications. "We also worry about any kind of pneumonia in a moisture environment."

With more than 4,000 caves in Alabama and majority of them in Madison and Jackson counties, cave disease is something that can be contracted right here at home. "Again that's one reason we tell people to go in with guides, let people know where you're at, have a plan as far as how long you're going to be in there and when you're coming out, so people know," said Dr. Williamson.

He said that you can't usually get exposed to these things just going in and out of a cave. He also doesn't recommend young children or anyone with a compromised immune system to go on cave dives for long periods of time.