A Fort Collins, Colorado, high school athlete died from the rare septicemic plague the day after he turned 16.
Taylor Thomas Gaes was a sophomore at Poudre High School. He was a pitcher for the baseball team and the football team’s quarterback. With his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, he reportedly had the potential for a “brilliant sports career.”
“We often talk about Taylor’s potential as an athlete, but he was much more than that,” Poudre Varsity Baseball Coach Russell Haigh said. “He was a good friend to all of our players. He was a special young man.”
Gaes died on June 8 of septicemic plague, a fast-moving form of the bacterial infection, according to Larimer County Department of Health and Environment spokesperson Katie O’Donnell, The Denver Post reports.
Haigh says that one week before Gaes’ death, he was in superb health.
Gaes showed flu-like symptoms on a Thursday and died four days later.
Septicemic plague is the most life-threatening form of the infection. It “goes straight into the blood,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said Gaes did not show the typical symptom of the plague — swollen lymph nodes — but instead had muscle aches and pains, reports The Daily Mail. For this reason, authorities were not made aware of the danger of the infection sooner.