The Grapevine

High Schooler Contracts Highly Contagious Herpes Gladiatorum, Or ‘Mat Herpes,’ On Face At Wrestling Match

High Schooler Contracts Highly Contagious Herpes Gladiatorum, Or ‘Mat Herpes,’ On Face At Wrestling Match
A high school wrestler from California is urging the state to cancel its wrestling tournament for this weekend until they can ensure the safety of other athletes. Blake Flovin from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose claims he contracted a highly contagious virus, known as herpes gladiatorum or “mat herpes,” during a match at Independence High School last month.Flovin started experiencing swollen glands and what appeared to be an acne breakout all over his face. Doctors initially diagnosed him with staph infection, but a recent visit to a different doctor revealed that he had, in fact, contracted herpes gladiatorum. Herpes gladiatorum is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and results in red skin lesions around the area of the eye. Although Flovin’s wrestling career has been cut short just after committing to wrestle for Holy Cross next year, he hopes his story will help clean up competitive wrestling’s dirty little secret. Flovin and his parents believe he contracted the virus from another wrestler or a contaminated mat. They noted that the gym for the Central Coast Section championships last month was not clean.“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 Brian Seymour, senior director of California Interscholastic Federation, in a statement. “We follow protocol to the letter of the law.”According to the National Federation of State High School Association, controlling the spread of skin infections has become a nationwide focus for high school wrestling. While previous data suggested herpes gladiatorum was prevalent among 2.6 percent of high school wrestlers, more recent data suggests it could actually exist in as much as 29.8 percent. Youtube

A high school wrestler from California is urging the state to cancel its wrestling tournament for this weekend until school officials can ensure the safety of other athletes. Blake Flovin, from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, claims he contracted a highly contagious virus known as herpes gladiatorum, or “mat herpes,” during a match at Independence High School last month.

Flovin started experiencing swollen glands and what appeared to be an acne breakout all over his face just days after a tournament held Feb. 19-20. Doctors initially diagnosed him with a staph infection, but a recent visit to a different doctor revealed that he had contracted herpes gladiatorum. Herpes gladiatorum is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and results in red skin lesions around the area of the eye. A diagnosis of the disease also means the wrestler may never compete again.  

Although Flovin’s wrestling career has been cut short just after committing to wrestle for Holy Cross next year, he hopes his story will help clean up competitive wrestling’s dirty little secret — some wrestlers are believed to hide their disease in order to continue competing, and then infect more wrestlers. Flovin and his parents believe he contracted the virus from another wrestler or a contaminated mat. They noted that the gym for the Central Coast Section championships last month was not clean.

Athletics officials defended their 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 Brian Seymour, senior director of the California Interscholastic Federation, in a statement. “We follow protocol to the letter of the law.”

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, controlling the spread of skin infections has become a nationwide focus for high school wrestling. While previous data suggested herpes gladiatorum was prevalent among 2.6 percent of high school wrestlers, more recent data suggests as many as 29.8 percent of wrestlers may have it. 

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