A high school athlete in “superb health” has died after contracting the plague at his family’s ranch in Colorado.
Four days after he began suffering from “flu-like symptoms” Taylor Gaes, 16, from Fort Collins, Colorado, died en route to the hospital on June 8. It was Larimer County’s first recorded case of the septicemic plague since 1999, according to health officials.
The sophomore was described to be in “superb health”. He was a top athlete at Poudre High School, playing for the varsity baseball team as a pitcher, as well as for the football team as quarterback. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Taylor Gaes, 16, from Fort Collins, Colorado, succumbed to the plague just four days after he started suffering from “flu-like symptoms”, despite being in “superb health”.
Speaking to The Denver Post, Poudre varsity baseball coach Russell Haigh said:
We often talk about Taylor’s potential as an athlete but he was much more than that. He was a good friend to all of our players. He was a special young man.
Larimer County Health Department spokeswoman Katie O’Donnell said Gaes didn’t display the typical signs of the plague — swollen lymph nodes.
Instead, the teen suffered from muscle aches and pains, which is why the doctors could not detect the dangers sooner.
2. The sophomore was a top sportsman at Poudre High School, playing in both the varsity baseball and football teams. His coaches said he was destined to play college sport.
According to health officials, the septicemic plague, which caused the teen’s death, was likely the result of a flea bite, or contact he could have made with a dead animal.
Only seven people contract the septicemic plague in the U.S. a year and it was only the third case in Larimer County in the last 30 years. O’Donnell said:
This form of the plague is extremely rare because the bacteria goes right to the bloodstream. It’s just the third case in the past 30 years that we’ve seen.
It’s hard to diagnose because people tend to not have the typical symptoms to start out with and ultimately, they don’t get on antibiotics in time.
3. Mourners embrace during a vigil for Gaes on June 10 at the Colorado State University Equine Center in Fort Collins.
The teen’s parents had hundreds of people over to spread Taylor’s ashes and are warning people to see a doctor as soon as they’re feeling sick, O’Donnell said. She added:
It’s not human-to-human contagious and it’s highly unlikely that anyone else was bit by an infected flea, but the family didn’t want to wait and risk someone else getting sick.
It takes two to six days before a person begins to see the symptoms of the plague after infection, O’Donnell explained. She believes that Taylor was bitten on the weekend before he died.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise $15,000 to help Tayler’s family with any expenses and another page has been set up in the teen’s memory to help pay youth baseball league entrance fees for kids.
4. Officials are looking for people who had contact with a teen who died of septicemic plague in Larimer County — a 7 NEWS report.
5. Septicemic plague kills a Colorado teen the day after his birthday — an ABC News report.
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