At least one north-central Iowa wrestler has been affected by a widespread outbreak of herpes gladiatorum in the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota State High School League has suspended wrestling in the state for the next week to try and control the outbreak.
Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health Disease Prevention Specialist Betty Krones says it is a virus that is similar to the one that produces cold sores. She says it is a herpes virus that affects the skin found in athletes that compete in close contract. Krones says herpes gladiatorum can start out as a rash and gradually get worse. She says the area may start out as a reddened area, turning into a blistered rash that will eventually scab over in seven to ten days.
People affected may also end up having a fever or muscle aches as well. Krones says if a person thinks they have herpes gladiatorum, they should immediately see their doctor. Krones says since herpes gladiatorum is spread through skin-to-skin contact, people who have it should make sure they protect other people from the virus. Krones says the virus is easily spread and could cause some serious side effects, especially if it gets into someone’s eye.
Minnesota officials say 24 cases of the virus have been reported by ten teams, including Kasson-Mantorville, a team that two weekends ago participated in the Osage Duals tournament. Clear Lake wrestling coach Gary Weber confirms that one of his wrestlers has missed the past week and is being treated for the disease. The coaches for the other teams involved, Osage, Emmetsburg, and Independence, have not reported any of their wrestlers having symptoms.
Minnesota has banned competitions and direct contact between wrestlers in practice until February 6th. Minnesota state officials decided to halt wrestling activities to try and control the current outbreak, allow time to diagnose new cases, and prevent disqualifications during the upcoming tournament series leading up to the Minnesota state tournament February 28th through March 3rd.