The eyes of the world have been on the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile in recent months, as the bid to rescue the 33 miners trapped over 700m underground continued. With the difficult operation finally proving successful in the last few days attention has now turned to the mental and physical wellbeing of the men who spent over sixty days in the mine before being pulled through a tiny borehole to safety.
Amazingly, only one of the men was suffering from a serious medical condition. The eldest, 63-year-old Mario Gomez, developed pneumonia while in the mine but is already responding well to treatment. Of the other miners, some are suffering from fungal skin complaints, which were anticipated because of their hot and humid living conditions underground. All of the men will have to continue wearing the sunglasses they were provided with during the rescue while they adjust to the light and there is, as yet, no way of knowing what psychological problems they may suffer in the future because of their ordeal.
One of the most common physical problems suffered by the rescued men was gingivitis and other minor dental problems. This is hardly surprising considering the length of time they were in the mine, without access to proper dental hygiene equipment. Some have suffered severe decay and have had to undergo dental surgery to remove the offending teeth. Many of the men are expected to be released from hospital in the coming days, once any treatment they require is complete and doctors are satisfied that they will make a full recovery. Those continuing to suffer from mouth infections will be sent home with antibacterial mouthwash to treat the gingivitis and other conditions, as well as being monitored closely over the next few months by a number of local healthcare professionals.