Bacterial meningitis case confirmed in Tuscarawas County where Ohio student recently died

Ryan Freeland. (Courtesy: Family)
Ryan Freeland. (Courtesy: Family)

TUSCARAWAS COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - The county health department confirmed a case of bacterial meningitis in Tuscarawas County where an Indian Valley High School student died recently.

The health department said Monday one case of bacterial meningitis was found.

HIPAA laws prevent the health department from saying who the confirmed sample came from.

However, Ryan Freeland died Thursday, Dec. 14, according to his obituary. Bacterial meningitis was suspected.

A blood culture sent to the health department confirmed the presence of a gram-positive bacteria called Streptococcus Pneumoniae.

The bacteria can cause respiratory infections, ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. Meningitis is the most severe type of pneumococcal disease.

Freeland, 14, was a freshman at Indian Valley High School.

School officials said they did not know Freeland had died until after school was closed for the day on Friday.

The school is working with the Tuscarawas County Health Department, the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Families of students known to have had close contact with Freeland on Dec. 14 were notified and those students were recommended to go to a local hospital and receive a medication treatment.

Services will be Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 1 p.m. at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Port Washington with visitation on Dec. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Ryan will be buried immediately following services at Union Cemetery in Salem Twp.

Bacterial Meningitis FAQs

The Tuscarawas County Health Department said signs and symptoms often happen abruptly. Freeland did not have symptoms until Dec. 14.

The Health Department said the "probable" case may take several days to confirm.

Students who did not come in close contact with this case should not be concerned at the this time, this appears to be an isolated case.

Bacterial meningitis is less contagious than the common cold.

The health department said the bacteria is spread through coughing and kissing, for more information on bacterial meningitis click this link.

The school district said the bathroom of concern will be cleaned thoroughly with an extra high concentration of the appropriate solution.

Every interior surface of Bus 24 will be wiped down twice with an extra high concentration of the appropriate solution.

The superintendent said all desktop surfaces, tables, counters, door knobs, drinking fountains will be cleaned at the high school.

The school will reopen on Tuesday, December 19.

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