The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health sent out warnings on Friday to alert schools of the risk of a skin herpes outbreak for any wrestlers who competed in the state tournament at the end of February.
Five members of a high school wrestling team in the state contracted herpes gladiatorum, according to the department’s press release. Potential cases of the virus have been reported in other schools, and the department is investigating.
“We all must be diligent in preventing the spread of communicable diseases through visible open lesions,” said state schools Superintendent Jorea Marple in the press release. “It is vital that athletes with open lesions do not participate in practice sessions or sporting events.”
According to the Associated Press, the herpes gladiatorum virus is highly contagious, spread by skin-to-skin contact, and could result in lesions on the face, head, and neck.
The Bureau of Public Health warned schools that new cases of the herpes virus may occur in exposed wrestlers through at least March 10, if they haven’t already. The department urged coaches and physicians to be watchful of symptoms in their student-athletes, and to report any further outbreaks immediately as to prevent the further spread of the disease.
This certainly isn’t the first outbreak of herpes gladiatorum in student wrestlers. (See this WebMD article from 2000, titled “Herpes Gladiatorum Is Common Among Wrestlers.”)
In fact, the NCAA has specific guidelines as to how to handle the herpes gladiatorum virus in collegiate-level wrestlers.
On that note: The blog will be taking a break for the rest of the week. Come back on Monday for your regularly scheduled Schooled in Sports updates.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.