News / Regina

Meningitis risk in Saskatchewan remains low, health officials say

The risk of contracting meningitis in Saskatchewan is low, a health official said on Thursday, while a Western Hockey League player remained in critical condition with the virus in Saskatoon.

"It's important to recognize that meningitis ... is extremely rare," Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, told reporters in Regina.

"In Saskatchewan ... we see anywhere between two to 10 cases a year."

The renewed concerns about meningitis come as Tim Bozon, a star player with the Kootenay Ice, remains at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital.

Bozon was admitted to the hospital on Saturday, a day after scoring a goal for the visiting Ice in a game against the Saskatoon Blades at Credit Union Place.

The case has prompted public health officials to ensure that anyone whom Bozon, 19, recently had contact with receives appropriate medical treatment.

Management of the Blades has confirmed that the team's players and other personnel have been given antibiotics as a precaution.

The Regina Pats will play against the Ice in Cranbrook, B.C., on Saturday. Pats management did not respond on Thursday to repeated requests for comment on any protective measures the team might be taking.

While avoiding comment directly on Bozon's situation, Shahab stressed that the potentially fatal virus is spread only through close or direct contact with someone infected.

"Just being in the same room," he said, "does not result in increased risk."

Saskatchewan had seven confirmed cases of meningitis in 2011, before dropping to three cases in 2012 and the same number last year.

Aside from Bozon, there has been one confirmed case of meningitis in the province this year.

A key factor in reducing the number of cases, according to Shahab, is the province's high immunization rate.

Shahab noted that about 95 per cent of children entering kindergarten in Saskatchewan have received meningitis vaccinations.

- With files from The Canadian Press

More on