Tim Bozon, a forward with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League, is in critical condition in hospital in Saskatoon with meningitis, according to the league and his family.
In a news release Wednesday, the WHL said Bozon was admitted to Royal University Hospital on Saturday where his condition was diagnosed as Neisseria Meningitis.
The league said his parents, who are from Switzerland, arrived in Saskatoon Sunday and are with their son.
"The family has indicated to the WHL that Tim’s condition is critical," the release said.
Health officials notifying contacts
Health officials are aware of the case and following protocols to ensure anyone who may have had direct contact with the player gets appropriate treatment.
What is meningitis?
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, meningitis is an inflammation of the lining around the spinal cord and brain. There are different strains of bacteria that can lead to the condition.
"It is a pretty severe disease," Dr. Shovita Padhi, the Saskatoon Health Region's Deputy Medical Health Officer, said Wednesday. "It can progress quite rapidly. Typically, people will present with a really intense headache, they may have a high fever, and they may feel really irritable, nausea, vomiting, they may find they have a stiff neck."
Provincial health officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon that players from several teams in the league where there was potential contact have been offered an antibiotic.
The region and ministry officials were also notifying other potential contacts, in B.C.
Dr. Shovita Padhi on how the condition can be spread:
"You have to have direct, close contact with someone else's nasal or throat secretions. What we usually say is you need to swap spit with that person. Depending on how you live your day to day life, if you're sharing drinks, cigarettes, lip products, eating utensils, things like that, those are the main ways to transmit it."
"For meningitis only close contacts who may have come in contact with oral secretions are considered," officials said in a release to news outlets. "Usually for sporadic cases that just means household contacts. In case of sports teams it becomes a bit more complicated because teams may share water bottles etc., and be in close contact with teams they play against; so other teams and referees are also being considered close contacts."
Officials said a general notice to the public is not necessary for this case.
Bozon, 19, played Friday when the Ice were in Saskatoon for a game against the Blades.
Bozon, a leading scorer in the league, is a top prospect for the Montreal Canadiens.
Saskatoon Blades follow up with antibiotics
"It was a surprise," Saskatoon Blades president Steve Hogle told CBC News Wednesday. "It was a surprise to everybody involved, and obviously you want to swing into action as quickly as possible to protect the health and welfare of your players."
Hogle said everyone on the club is being given a course of antibiotics as a precaution.
"We're following the lead and the recommendations of the local health authorities and the Western Hockey League," he said. "We've done everything that they have asked."
Hogle added the team is doing what it can to help Bozon's family while they are in Saskatoon.
"We're doing everything in our power to support the family and to make it as easy as possible while they're here," Hogle said.
Hogle said Blades players were given specific information about meningitis, including what symptoms to look out and how to ensure it doesn't spread.
"Our players realize the seriousness of the situation," he said.