File photo - Former President George H.W. Bush
(USA TODAY) -- Former president George H.W. Bush, who was hospitalized in Houston last month with a bronchitis-like cough, has been in intensive care since Sunday because of a "stubborn" fever that has worsened in recent days, his spokesman said Wednesday evening.
Jim McGrath told the Associated Press that the elder Bush was moved to ICU at Methodist Hospital "following a series of setbacks including a persistent fever." He said that Bush was alert and talking with medical staff, and that doctors were cautiously optimistic about his treatment, AP says.
Earlier McGrath said doctors had been treating the fever with Tylenol but had not determined why it has "elevated" in recent days. The 41st president was also put on a liquids-only diet.
Doctors had hoped to discharge him by Christmas Day.
At the same time, McGrath said, the nagging cough that landed the 88-year-old former president in the hospital has improved. He coughs only about once a day, McGrath said.
Bush was initially hospitalized Nov. 7, then released, but returned on Nov. 23.
Bush, who lives in Houston in the winter and at a home in Kennebunkport, Maine, in the summer, 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 scheduled to arrive Wednesday from Bethesda, Md.
The former president has also been visited twice by his sons, George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.