A plague death has been confirmed in a Colorado high school athlete.
Taylor Gaes, a 16-year-old Poudre High School student, died last month from what seemed to be a mystery illness, according to Fox 31 Denver. However, the Larimer County Health Officials have determined that Gaes died from a rare case of the Septicemic plague.
Gaes’ family owns land near the Cherokee Park area near Livermore, and it is believed that Gaes contracted the plague from fleas off of a dead rodent or other animal while visiting there. He started experiencing symptoms on June 8, just one day after his sixteenth birthday. His family and friends thought he simply had the flu. However, it turned out to be much worse than that.
A candlelight vigil was held on Wednesday night at the Colorado State University Equine Center, where the quarterback and pitcher was remembered by his community.
— Coloradoan (@coloradoan) June 11, 2015
“It makes a parent proud to see how many lives Taylor touched and who touched Taylor’s,” his father, Shannon Gaes, said at the vigil,, according to the Colorodoan. “You absolutely never know when the last day will come.”
Chloe Brown, Taylor’s girlfriend since January, also spoke at the vigil.
— Jason Pohl (@pohl_jason) June 20, 2015
“It was love at first sight,” Brown said to the crowd. “I’ll never forget him walking to his fourth period class. He was the most handsome boy I’d ever seen in my life.”
“We should all be thankful we had a chance to know such a generous soul,” Brown added.
So happy to have known and coached Taylor Gaes. He was talented and a good kid. My deepest condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/kBwqcj7R2e
— Will Cantwell (@WillCantwell) June 9, 2015
The would be junior in high school, who stood 6 foot, 4 inches, and 210 pounds, was already being considered by colleges as a potential baseball prospect.
“We often talk about Taylor’s potential as an athlete, but he was much more than that,” Poudre baseball coach Russell Haigh said. “He was a good friend to all of our players. He was a special young man.”
— Kevin Lytle (@Kevin_Lytle) June 10, 2015
Another memorial service will be held at Taylor’s family ranch, and the Larimer County Health Department has warned all those who plan on attending to be extra careful if they start experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“There is a small chance that others might have been bitten by infected fleas, so anyone who was on the family’s land in the last seven days should seek medical attention immediately if a fever occurs.” Larimer health officials said in a statement.
As stated before, the Septicemic plague’s symptoms can resemble those of the flu. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has listed many other symptoms that the plague may carry on their website.
“Patients develop fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly bleeding into the skin and other organs. Skin and other tissues may turn black and die, especially on fingers, toes, and the nose. Septicemic plague can occur as the first symptom of plague, or may develop from untreated bubonic plague. This form results from bites of infected fleas or from handling an infected animal.”
Friends of Taylor’s family set up a GoFundMe page to help them cover their unexpected costs associated with Taylor’s death. Their goal of $15,000 was exceeded with 106 people raising $15,325 in only 13 days.
[Photo via GoFundMe campaign]