Teen athlete suddenly falls ill, dies from rare illness spread through flea bite

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LARIMER CO., Co. — A 16-year-old high school student from Colorado has died from what’s believed to be a rare form of the plague.

KDVR reports Taylor Gaes, who was a quarterback and pitcher at Poudre High School, died suddenly earlier this month.

Health officials believe Gaes contracted septicemic plague from fleas on a dead rodent or other animal in the area.

The Washington Post reports that one of Gaes’ coaches said he was in “superb” health just one week before his death. About two days after he began to complain of flu-like symptoms, his condition quickly got worse. He was in so much pain at one point during one of his baseball games that Gaes had to leave.

The next morning, he coughed up blood and stopped breathing on the way to the hospital, the day after his 16th birthday.

Health officials say septicemic plague is contracted when bacteria enters the blood stream. It is highly fatal, and it’s contagious.

People who attended Gaes’ memorial are also being warned to be aware of the symptoms.

Read more here.

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