Plague kills teen in Colorado: 5 things to know

A 16-year-old in Colorado is dead after contracting a rare case of the plague. The following are five things to know about the story.

1. The teenager, Taylor Thomas Gaes, appeared to have the common flu and did not exhibit the usual sign of the plague, according to a Los Angeles Times report. This could have delayed health officials in identifying the true cause of his illness, the Times reported.

2. He died June 8, four days after the onset of flu-like symptoms, of septicemic plague, the most life-threatening form of the bacterial infection, according to the Denver Post.

3. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, septicemic plague results from bites of infected fleas or from handling an infected animal, which could have happened to the boy on his family's land, the Post reported. According to the CDC, this type of plague infection presents as a complication of either pneumonic or bubonic plague.

4. Health department officials have warned people who attended the teen's memorial service, which took place on his family's land, to be alert if they come down with flu-like symptoms, according to a Fox News report, because there is a "small chance" they could have been bitten by an infected flea.

5. A median of eight cases of human plague are reported each year in the U.S., according to the CDC. Advancements in antimicrobial therapy have reduced the overall mortality rate from 60 percent to roughly 16 percent.

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