Colorado plague victim Taylor Gaes died on June 8.
Health officials believe Gaes died of a rare illness associated with a septicemic pester. The most common type of “pester” associated with the difficult-to-detect illness is reportedly a bubonic pester — the initiator of the bubonic plague.
The bubonic plague reportedly presents with a particular set of symptoms that doctors search for when attempting to determine a medical diagnosis. The plague symptoms typically include fever, gangrene, chills, muscle cramps, seizures, and discomfort and swelling of the lymph nodes.
Taylor Gaes did not reportedly show bubonic plague symptoms. Gaes’ doctors felts the Colorado pester victim had “bad case of the flu.” Post-mortem tests conducted on the Colorado teenager revealed that Gaes was a bubonic plague victim who likely died as a result of septicemic plague.
Septicemic plague attacks the blood stream of the patient and is reportedly considered an “unusual” type of the plague. Symptoms of septicemic plague include abdominal pain, throwing up, diarrhea, shock, and gangrene. Because the plague bacteria is in the patient’s bloodstream, it is able to spread quickly throughout the body. Being diagnosed with this type of pester is considered incredibly rare. On a national scale, about seven people are diagnosed with this type of plague on an annual basis. When septicemic plague is caught during the early stages, is is often treatable with antibiotics.
Taylor Gaes was honored by community members, friends, and relatives at an ash scattering on June 13. The Colorado plague victim was the third person in Larimer County to die of this pester in the past three decades. All of the plague victims were reportedly from the Red Feather and Livermore areas.
All forms of the plague are reportedly transmitted to people after they are bitten by an infected flea. Colorado health officials believe that Gaes was infected while in a rural building with his family. CDC officials are currently testing rodents in Larimer County to see if the presence of the plague pester remains in the area. Health officials have advised residents to stay away from dead or sick rodents and to contact Larimer County health officials if they come into contact with such rodents. Local residents are also advised to report “uncommonly quiet” prairie dog activity in the area.
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