Tuscarawas County health officials address bacterial meningitis deaths

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NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio-- The Tuscarawas County Health Department held a news conference Thursday afternoon following two bacterial meningitis deaths.

Katie Seward, commissioner of the Tuscarawas County Health Department, said the two cases are not related.

"While meningitis is serious, I want to stress this is not an outbreak situation. Rather these are two individual, very distinct cases," Seward said during the news conference. "At this time, there is no action necessary by any member of the public, including those with close contact with the individual."

Seward would not release information that identified either victim. The first case was in the southwest part of the county and from Indian Valley Local Schools. It was reported on Dec. 15.

The second victim was from the northeast corner of Tuscarawas County, in the Garaway Local School District. Seward said this person attended the 11 a.m. Christmas Eve service at NewPointe Community Church in Dover. The health department was notified on Tuesday.

"Tuscarawas County residents are not at any increased risk of developing meningitis than they were last week or last year. These are two isolated cases and we want to ensure that the public recognizes this is not an outbreak situation."

In 2016, there were 134 cases of bacterial meningitis in the state of Ohio. Seward said seven resulted in death.

"While all bacterial meningitis is bad for the patient, there are different types of bacteria that can cause meningitis," Seward said. "However, there is only one type of bacteria that causes significant risk to close proximity contact and neither one of those was from the cases involved thus far."

Common symptoms for meningitis in adults include fever, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to bright light, trouble waking up, nausea and vomiting. In babies, there is fever, poor eating, irritability and lethargy. (You can find more information on bacterial meningitis from the Centers for Disease Control here.)

More stories on the Tuscarawas County bacterial meningitis deaths here