Bacterial meningitis confirmed in Tuscarawas County student who passed away

TUSCARAWAS COUNTY, Ohio -- The Tuscarawas County Health Department confirms that an Indian Valley High School student who died last week had bacterial meningitis.

Parents of students at a high school in Gnadenhutten were notified on Saturday that the student had a "probable case of bacterial meningitis."

The health department said Monday that laboratory tests confirm the case.

Indian Valley Local Schools sent the following letter (in part) to families on Saturday:

"This letter is to inform you of a “probable case of bacterial meningitis” with a high school
student on Bus 24, Lisa Hall’s bus. We have been in contact with the Tuscarawas County
Health Department who conferred with the Ohio Department of Health and the Center for
Disease Control for appropriate protocols."

The school said they notified all families of students who were known to have close contact with the student suspected of having the illness. Additionally, the families were encouraged to take the exposed students to local hospitals for treatment.

According to a release from the health department:

"The blood culture (of the student who passed away) confirmed the presence of a gram-positive bacteria called Streptococcus Pneumoniae. Pneumococci are common inhabitants of the respiratory tract of 5-90% of healthy persons. Only 5–10% of adults without children are carriers. Among school-aged children, 20–60% may be carriers (CDC).

This bacteria can cause respiratory infections, ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. Meningitis is the most severe type of pneumococcal disease. The bacteria that causes pneumococcal disease are spread through contact with persons who are ill or healthy persons who carry the bacteria in the back of the nose or mouth. Transmission is mostly through the spread of respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth of a person with the infection. It is also common for people, especially children, to carry the bacteria in their throats without being ill from it.

It is not entirely known why streptococcus pneumonia causes meningitis in some persons. Risk factors may include decreased immune system, heart or pulmonary disease, and smoking.

Bacterial Meningitis is a Class B reportable disease meaning it must be reported by the close of next business day to the local public health department where the patient resides."

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis often occur abruptly and include fever, chills, headache and stiff neck. The progression of the disease is usually rapid.

Indian Valley High School will be closed this Monday but all other schools are in session.

**Read the full letter, here**