A teen from Colorado died after contracting a rare strain of bacteria in his family's property in the rural Cherokee Park area northwest of Fort Collins.

Taylor Thomas Gaes died on Monday, June 8, a day after his 16th birthday, with a final medical diagnosis of septicemic plague, which is a rapidly spreading type of infection, says Katie O'Donnell, spokesperson of the Larimer County Health Department.

A week before Taylor died, he was generally healthy and active, says Russell Haigh, varsity baseball coach at the Poudre High School. He then initially experienced swollen glands, fever and muscle pains, all indicative of the common cold. After four days of flu-like symptoms, Taylor died, O'Donnell said. Taylor most likely contracted the bacteria through a flea bite or contact with a dead animal that was infected with the disease.

Taylor's remains were cremated and after two weeks, his ashes were scattered in the family ranch. The local health department was able to confirm a flea bite of an infected animal was the culprit of Taylor's death.

Before the cause of death was identified, many people visited the residence of Taylor's clan. This was why the family wanted to release Taylor's name and the news to urge guests, who attended the funeral service, to take the necessary medical interventions should they experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and muscle aches.

The family is currently reaching out to the guests, who witnessed the scattering of Taylor's ashes in the ranch. Taylor's relatives do not want anyone to contract the disease; however, the risk of developing the disease is rare and the more than a hundred guests of the family are less likely to contract it, said O'Donnell.

The family is asking all the guests, especially those who have flu-like symptoms, to seek medical consultation as anyone could acquire the infection. If not feeling well, seek professional medical consult immediately. It must be noted, however, that those who attended the funeral service in Fort Collins are safe.

Taylor was a student athlete, who played baseball for the Poudre High School. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 201 pounds, he was named no. 2 pitcher in his varsity team and was included in the first six athletes even at 15 years old. He was an excellent hitter and had great potential to have a brilliant career in sports. Taylor was more than just a good player but also a good friend to his peers.

Photo: Sean Winters | Flickr

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