Stricken Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has developed pneumonia as doctors try to bring him out of the artificial coma that he has been in since December 29, German media reported.
Germany's biggest newspaper, Bild, said that Schumacher, 45, developed the lung infection last week at the University Hospital in Grenoble. His spokeswoman Sabine Kehm refused to comment on the report, saying only it was 'speculation, and I do not comment on speculation.'
But Bild, which is known to have close contacts to the inner circle of the seven-time world Formula One champion, said he is being treated with strong antibiotics as his doctors try to ascertain just how dangerous the infection is.
Pneumonia is among the greatest life threatening conditions that can afflict people in Schumacher's position. The lack of a competent swallowing mechanism can make saliva run into the lungs and trigger the potentially lethal respiratory infection.
Just a couple of weeks back, there was some positive news regarding the health of Schumacher with doctors confirming that his sedation had been reduced to try and get him out of an induced coma.
While, Michael Schumacher's wife Corinna, 44, spends hours talking to the seven-time Formula One world champion trying to lure him out of his induced coma.
The former F1 driver was placed in an artificially induced coma after he struck a rock while skiing off-piste in the resort of Meribelon Dec 29. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital and received emergency brain surgery.
Schumacher is the most successful Formula One driver of all time with 91 race victories.
He left the sport last year after a disappointing three-year comeback with Mercedes following an earlier retirement from Ferrari at the end of 2006.
Image: Michael Schumacher
Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters