Family speaks about plague that killed Fort Collins high school baseball star

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Larimer County Health and Environment officials confirmed the septicemic plague killed a Poudre High School baseball player.

Taylor Gaes, 16, died June 8. Health officials are urging people who visited the Gaes home after his death to seek medical attention if they notice flulike symptoms.

"He died from the septicemic plague, which means infections goes through the blood," Larimer County Health and Environment spokeswoman Katie O'Donnell said.

It's believed Gaes was bitten by an infected flea.

"Taylor's family lives in the Livermore area. We know there's been plague rodent activity up there," O'Donnell said. "The family just wanted to make sure we didn't have another death because we didn't say anything when we knew there was a risk there."

The Gaes family is expected to speak publicly for the first time since their son's death on Tuesday afternoon.

"Taylor was 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and threw like a rocket," said James Conyers, a longtime family friend and former coach. "He's not my son, but I am very proud of Taylor just because of the type of person he was."

In honor of Gaes, a baseball memorial scholarship has been set up under his name.

"Taylor used to always ask us, why doesn't everyone play baseball. It wasn't until he got older that he realized how expensive baseball was," Conyers said.

Money raised for the scholarship fund will help low-income families pay for baseball equipment and fees.

A memorial fund has been established in Gaes' name.

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