The father of a 15-year-old Coquitlam, B.C., teen who died of meningitis is asking teenagers to stop sharing water bottles when playing team sports because of the danger of contracting the disease.
Colin Campbell spearheaded a beach soccer tournament in Vancouver on Saturday aimed at spreading the message that bacterial meningitis could be transmitted through saliva.
Campbell's son Brodie, a Grade 10 student at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, died suddenly from what health officials believed to be bacterial meningitis in April of last year.
He had been vaccinated at school against one strain of the disease but died from a different, rare strain, his father said.
Campbell said doctors were not sure how his son contracted meningitis but he suspects it could have been through sharing water bottles when Brodie participated in various team sports such as lacrosse and rugby.
"It's only a guess that it occurred through sharing team water bottles," Campbell said.
"The bacteria [is] transmitted through saliva through such things as coughing and sneezing and through such things as water bottles," he said.
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain, and can affect the lining of the brain or cause a blood infection.
The symptoms are flu-like, including fever, a severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, sleeplessness, sensitivity to bright lights, and respiratory infection. They also include a bruise-like rash.
The meningococcal bacteria can be spread by direct contact with the saliva of an infected person, through kissing or the sharing of food, drinks, water bottles, cigarettes or mouthpieces of musical instruments.
About 35 to 50 cases are reported in B.C. every year, with an average of three people a year dying of bacterial meningitis.