Two cases of what’s called herpes gladiatorum are now confirmed at Lake-Lehman High School in Lehman Township.
Doctors said it’s not uncommon for this type of virus to affect wrestlers.
By nature, wrestling is a contact sport and the Lake-Lehman Black Knights are known as some of the best wrestlers in Luzerne County.
This week two of the athletes tested positive for a form of the herpes virus that is spread only through skin-to-skin contact.
“We have isolated our students from being able to have skin-to-skin contact with drilling the wrestling team where they are actually wrestling on the mats. We are holding them out of doing that until we are feeling confident that we don`t have any more outbreaks,” said Lake-Lehman High School Principal Doug Klopp.
He added other students who use the gym and don’t have skin-to-skin contact are not at risk.
School officials also posted pictures of the virus symptoms in the athletic room and met with athletes and their parents about the problem.
Dr. Paul Long, a dermatologist with Geisinger Health Systems, said this strain of the herpes virus is not uncommon with wrestlers.
“We are used to having cold sores on the lips, but when we are dealing with a contact sport these cold sores can appear anywhere on the body, like an arm a cheek neck, back wherever and sometimes they can be very widespread,” explained Dr. Long.
Because of the outbreak, Lake-Lehman officials did have to cancel one wrestling match but the principal said next week`s district meet is still on.
“Take that hard stance of pulling our kids back whether it`s not making the parents happy or the coaches and making sure we are keeping them safe,” added Klopp.
Dr. Long said wrestlers who contract this form of herpes can still participate, just not while the virus blisters are active.
“It takes them out of the game for a minimum of five days. If this happens before an important meet it can be devastating for someone of that age,” added Dr. Long.
Dr. Long said wrestlers who notice any kind of skin rash or blister should report it to their coach right away and then get checked out by their family physician.