Herpes outbreak triggers wrestling ban in Minnesota

CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) -- An outbreak of a contagious rash called herpes gladiatorum among Minnesota high school wrestlers led the state to suspend matches and halt contact practices, authorities said Wednesday.

The eight-day suspension affecting 7,500 wrestlers on 262 teams was the first time a state's entire high school program in a sport has been shut down, authorities said.

The Minnesota State High School League acted after 24 wrestlers from 10 schools contracted the rash, which was first noticed and spread at a tournament in December.

"I think it's a bold step by our high school league to protect our athletes -- and it's better now than at post-season tournament time," said Scot Davis, the wrestling coach at Owatonna Senior High School, whose wrestling program has one of the best records in the country.

Davis said the suspension should allow infected wrestlers to recover as herpes usually disappears within 10 to 14 days. Any wrestler with the rash is barred from competing.

Herpes gladiatorum -- commonly known as mat herpes because wrestlers are particularly susceptible -- is caused by contact with the same common herpes simplex virus that produces cold sores.

A rash on the face or upper body is sometimes accompanied by itchiness, fever and sore throat, and it can cause blindness if it reaches the eyes. Some victims suffer recurring bouts throughout their lives.

A spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine said it was putting together a public education campaign about how to spot and contain outbreaks.

Copyright 2007 Reuters.

1 comment:

me said...

i read that "hand in the pants" is the number one cause of disturbing photographs.