The following is an excerpt taken from a letter written by Dr. Jeff Scott, the Provincial Medical Officer of Health in Nova Scotia, to the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Sports & Recreation Commission.

“No doubt you are aware of the recent widespread media coverage of a case of meningococcal disease in a young man who is a keen hockey player.  Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection.  The most common site of the infection is in the blood (meningococcemia) or in the spinal fluid (meningitis).  Symptoms of meningococcal infection are fever, stiff neck, headache, change in the level of alertness, rash, and general malaise.  It is spread by direct contact with secretions from the nose and mouth through activities such as kissing, sharing food, drinks, pop bottles, toothbrushes or eating utensils.

Every athlete should bring their own water bottle with them to games and practices.  It should be clearly marked for easy identification.  In fact, athletes should not share any beverage container or eating utensil whatsoever.  Nor should they share lip balm or cigarettes.

Sharing water bottles or any beverage container during practice or games is not a healthy practice.  Not only does it lead to the spread of bacteria such as meningococcal, but it contributes to the spread of other respiratory pathogens such as influenza or the common cold.

Help spread the word and create awareness to the issue that athletes should have their own water bottles and that they do not share with their teammates.”

The Sport Medicine and Science Council of Saskatchewan would like to encourage all teams and coaches to educate their athletes about the importance of having their own individual water bottles at games and practices to help reduce the chances of contracting any type of illness