- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A high school wrestler who believes he contracted a highly contagious virus known as “mat herpes” during a recent tournament in Northern California wants the upcoming state championships postponed so other students don’t contract the disease.

The San Jose Mercury News reports (https://bayareane.ws/21Kmh3T ) Thursday that Blake Flovin believes he was infected with herpes gladiatorum during the Central Coast Section championships last month. His face is now covered in a severe red rash.

State interscholastic officials say they won’t cancel the tournament in the Central California valley Friday because they have in place rigid protocols to protect wrestlers from herpes gladiatorum, which is spread mostly through red skin lesions.

Skin checks are held before tournaments and any athlete with an active infection isn’t allowed to compete.

But the wrestler says some athletes use bandages or make up to cover their rashes.

“The rules and the swiftness in the way they deal with skin issues in wrestling is flawed and kids and coaches try to skirt around the issues,” Blake said Wednesday.

The virus stays with wrestlers their entire lives. It can lie dormant for long periods of time. The virus becomes contagious when wrestlers have a flare up of lesions.

His father, Rick Flovin, also a wrestling coach, says hiding the disease is widespread because scholarships are at stake.

He says he helped launch some of the strictest hygiene standards in the sport, including requiring wrestlers to step in a pan of disinfectant before they hit the mat. That safety measure was not in place at Independence High, he said.

Officials with the California Interscholastic Federation, which governs all high school sports, said Wednesday that high schools are required to follow national safety standards.

“We’ve had many times where our doctors have removed an athlete who was showing symptoms or some sort of skin lesion. This is something we deal with on a regular basis,” said the organization’s senior director Brian Seymour, who is also tournament director in Bakersfield this weekend. “We follow protocol to the letter of the law.”


Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, https://www.mercurynews.com

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