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BC-HKO-WHL-Player-In-Hospital@ code:6

Eds:Moves both West regional and Sports; Guard against duplication@ INDEX: Health, Sports@ HL:Doctor says no cause for panic after hockey star hospitalized with meningitis@ THE CANADIAN PRESS@ SASKATOON — Saskatchewan's chief medical officer says there is no cause for public panic after a hockey player was hospitalized for meningitis.

Dr. Saqib Shahab says the likelihood of the potentially fatal illness spreading to the general public is very low.

Tim Bozon, 19, a star player for the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League, is still in a Saskatoon hospital in critical condition after being diagnosed with the illness following a game against the Saskatoon Blades last week.

Health officials have been working to make sure anyone who came into contact with the bacteria receives appropriate treatment.

Shahab says Saskatchewan sees between two and 10 cases of meningitis a year and it's become a lot less common that the cases are connected.

He says a strong immunization program has helped those numbers compounded with the fact that it's tough to actually transfer the disease.

"The risk really is from direct transmission of saliva," said Shahab. "Being in the same room or shaking someone's hand or sitting next to someone does not result in increased risk."

One way of transmitting saliva is by sharing water bottles, as hockey teams usually do, but Shahab said those who have come into contact with meningitis can usually be treated with a single dose of antibiotics.

Meningitis presents itself firstly in the form of fever and a general feeling of sickness, but it can progress rapidly into vomiting, drowsiness and even unconsciousness.

He said anyone experiencing those symptoms should seek medical attention even though those symptoms could be caused by other illnesses.

Bozon, who was selected in the third round, 64 overall, by Montreal in the 2012 NHL draft, was admitted to hospital March 1.

Kootenay beat Saskatoon 4-2 the night before. Bozon had a goal in the victory.

His parents, Phillippe and Helen, have been at his bedside since they arrived in Saskatoon Sunday from their home in Switzerland.


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