LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (MEDIA GENERAL) – Multiple news sources have confirmed a 16-year-old boy from Colorado died from a rare case of “the plague.”
Taylor Gaes died June 8, 2015, but details of his illness weren’t released until Friday, June 19. Larimer County Health Department spokesperson Katie O’Donnell told the Los Angeles Times Gaes initially was diagnosed with the flu because the plague is so rare, and he didn’t show telltale signs of the infection, including swollen lymph nodes. Gaes reportedly complained of a fever and body aches.
According to O’Donnell, three people in Larimer County, in north central Colorado, have contracted the plague in the past 30 years.
Health officials aren’t sure which type of plague Gaes contracted, however they suspect he was exposed to the bubonic plague, because it is the most common and is the easiest form of the bacteria to be transmitted through a bug bite.
According to the LA Times, Gaes likely was bitten by an infected flea. Memorial services for Gaes were held at his family’s property. The Larimer County Health Department instructed people to monitor themselves for symptoms and seek help immediately if they develop a high fever.
Bubonic plague is caused by bacteria transmitted from a bite from an infected bug, usually a flea. The bacteria grow inside a person’s lymph nodes, which causes them to swell, a telltale symptom of the plague. It is treated with antibiotics.
The plague is very rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven human cases of plague are reported on average each year. The disease usually is concentrated in the southwest region of the U.S.
The bubonic plague is most known for the widespread epidemic known as The Black Death that killed an estimated 75 million to 200 million people in the 14th century in Europe.