DENVER, Colorado (AP) – Health officials think a Colorado teen who died of the plague had a less common form of the disease that’s difficult to detect. Sixteen-year-old Taylor Gaes died June 8 after coming down with what seemed like a bad case of the flu. But tests later confirmed it was the plague, possibly spread by fleas on his family’s rural property.
The most common type of plague, bubonic, affects the body’s lymphatic system and causes tell-tale swelling of the lymph nodes. But Gaes is believed to have had septicemic plague, a form which spreads directly through the blood stream and doesn’t lead to swelling. Cases of plague are rare, with an average of seven human cases nationally a year. All forms can be treated with antibiotics if recognized in time.