A Colorado teen died of the plague just a day after his 16th birthday. Taylor Gaes died in route to the hospital on June 8 with Larimer County’s first case of the septicemic plague since 1999, an official confirmed to ABC News today.
Gaes — a sophomore at Poudre High School — began experiencing flu-like symptoms after pitching at a baseball game on June 4, Katie O’Donnell from the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment said.
An investigation into Gaes’ death is still ongoing by the Department of Health and Environment, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the State Health Department. However, Gaes is thought to have been bitten by an infected flea on his family’s ranch, 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,” O’Donnell said.
“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,” she added.
The Gaes family, who did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, had a couple hundred people over to spread Taylor’s ashes and are now warning people to go to the doctor as soon as possible if they’re feeling sick, according to O’Donnell.
“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,” she said.
O’Donnell said it takes a good two to six days for someone to start seeing the symptoms of the plague after being infected. She estimates Taylor was bitten the weekend before he died.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help Taylor’s family with any expenses and another memorial scholarship account was set up in Taylor’s memory to help pay for children’s baseball league fees.
There’s an average of seven human plague cases each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Source: ABC News – Top Stories Plague Kills High School Student