updated 9/29/2010 7:39:15 PM ET 2010-09-29T23:39:15

A viral infection is the likely cause of the stomach distress that sent former President Jimmy Carter to a Cleveland hospital after a flight from Atlanta, medical staff said Wednesday.

Carter, who was spending a second night in the hospital, was recovering and the viral infection was clearing up, said a statement from MetroHealth Medical Center.

"President Carter thanks all those who have expressed concern and sent greetings to him," the statement says.

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The 85-year-old ex-president became ill Tuesday during the Delta Air Lines flight, causing rescue crews to rush him to the hospital after the plane landed. He was whisked from an airplane to the facility's emergency room, and was placed under round-the-clock monitoring by a team of doctors.

"President Carter is in very good spirits, appreciates all the good wishes being sent his way, and looks forward to getting back to his busy schedule," hospital officials said in an earlier statement Wednesday.

Carter's medical team had recommended that he stay a second night for additional monitoring, hospital spokeswoman Susan Christopher said.

On Tuesday, Carter's grandson, Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter, said his grandfather was doing fine.

"He's definitely resting comfortably and expected to continue his book tour this week," Jason Carter said. "I haven't talked to him, but nobody in the family is concerned."

Mary Atkins, who had taken her daughter to the hospital for medical treatment on Tuesday, saw Carter from a nearby room and said he was up, walking around and saying he was ready to leave.

The hospital stay has interrupted Carter's tour to promote his new book, "White House Diary."

Planned book-signings in Ohio and North Carolina were called off Tuesday. His publisher also canceled scheduled events in Washington on Wednesday, including one at the Smithsonian Institution. The status of an event planned at a Columbia, S.C., bookstore Thursday was unclear.

Carter, a former peanut farmer elected to the White House in 1976, has spent his recent years pursuing peace and human rights, efforts that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

In the new book, Carter said he pursued an overly aggressive agenda as president that may have confused voters and alienated lawmakers. But he said the tipping points that cost him the 1980 election were the Iran hostage crisis and the Democratic primary challenge by U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

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He is the author of more than 20 books, including the 2006 "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid," about his experiences in the Middle East, and the 2005 "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis."

Despite his age, the former president has maintained a busy public schedule. In August, he traveled to North Korea to secure the freedom of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, an American who was sentenced to eight years hard labor for allegedly illegally entering the communist country via China.

About 500 people had waited in line Tuesday afternoon at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in suburban Lyndhurst, where Carter was scheduled to sign copies of his book.

"It's crazy for an 85-year-old guy to fly ... just to sign some books," Regulator Bookshop co-owner John Valentine said. "He's a brave guy. His health is most important."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Jimmy Carter remains hospitalized

  1. Transcript of: Jimmy Carter remains hospitalized

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Jimmy Carter hopes to be out of the hospital by his birthday, this Friday, when he turns 86. The former president is in Cleveland . Tonight will be his second night in the hospital after falling ill on a Delta commercial flight from Atlanta to Cleveland yesterday. They say he's in good spirits, awake and in charge, that his color is good, but they just want to observe the former president

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