The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to determine how prevalent the plague is in a rural area of northern Colorado where a 16-year-old boy died of the disease.
Taylor Gaes of Livermore died June 8, but the cause was only made public late Friday when health officials, at the urging of the boy’s parents, put out a warning to make sure others who may have visited his family’s rural home northwest of Fort Collins hadn’t been sickened by fleas that could have infected him.
Those visitors are now considered safe because the incubation period for the disease passed on Monday.
Gaes likely was infected with a rare form of the disease, septicemic plague, by fleas that put the bacteria directly into his blood stream, making it difficult to spot in time to stop its spread.
Larimer County and CDC officials said Tuesday they likely won’t ever know how Taylor was infected but were canvassing the area to try to gauge the plague’s presence. They warned residents to take common precautions to avoid flea bites and to stay away from dead animals and rodents.