Nasty situation

The incubation period of herpes gladiatorum is longer than the usual ring worm and impetigo.

Photo courtesy of NY State Dept. of Health

The rumors are spreading faster than the skin breakout itself.

Everyone wants to who is responsible and who might have been in contact.

"We just want to know so we know if we have been exposed," Chandler coach Vidal Mejia said. "One of my kids said other people were saying it was us and that's not remotely close to being true."

The answer hasn't been made public by the AIA, but it appears it may have started at the Centennial Pack Tournament.

In an email the AFN received from a parent of Centennial wrestler, the parent said about six of the Coyote wrestlers had/have a skin issue.

Centennial coach Brian Burgess wouldn't comment and said to contact athletic director Erik Stone. A message left with Stone wasn't returned.

According to the parent it was originally thought to be impetigo, which is common and taken care of in three to four days if treated properly.

The belief is that it ended up being a strain of herpes gladiatorum (HSV-1), which has a longer incubation period (one Centennial wrestler didn't break out until Saturday, the day sectionals was scheduled to begin), of about eight days.

The Pack tournament on Jan. 24-25 was a 24-team event: Mountain Ridge, Thunderbird, Centennial, Apollo, Sandra Day O`Connor, Millennium, Tolleson, Mesquite , Glendale, Raymond Kellis, Westwood, Pinnacle, Maryvale, Westview, Greenway, Cesar Chavez, Paradise Valley, Sunnyslope, LaJoya, Central, Sierra Linda, Youngker, Cactus, Desert Mountain.

Most of those teams had dual meets the following week so in theory those infected could have passed it along to additional teams.

In fact Mountain Pointe wrestled Cesar Chavez on Jan. 30 and eight days later, the day the postponement was announced, some team members broke out.

Their availability for state is in questions.

Sectionals just might have been like diving into a petri dish.

Mountain Ridge coach Corey Whitten said they had "a bunch of wrestlers out for about a week with skin stuff (impetigo) after the Centennial Tournament.  All but one of those kids are clean now."

The AIA's decision after seeking "advice and counsel received from medical, public health officials and experts within the national wrestling community" to cancel sectionals state-wide was not well-received and the vague statement on Monday only made it worse.

In the big picture the decision had merit when considering the precedent set by other states (Minnesota in 2007, Eastmont School District in Washington in 2011).

If it is truly herpes (the AIA ruled out MRSA in its initial statement on Friday) then that is different than the usual run of the mill ring worm or impetigo.

Coaches want to keep wrestling so much so there has already been talk of holding a state tournament through AZ USA Wrestling if the AIA does cancel this weekend's event, which will start on Friday at the earliest.

They feel like they have rules in place to protect the wrestlers. Every wrestler at every meet is inspected by referees at weigh ins for skin disease along with length of fingernails and hair.

So they feel if someone shows up at weigh ins with a sign of a skin disease, and they don't have a doctor's note clearing them, then that competitor can't wrestle.

The incubation period is where it gets tricky.

People with herpes gladiatorum, according to the department of health website, can have periods where the virus is inactive and cannot be spread to others. However, the virus can reactivate at any time and be transmitted to others, even if there are no symptoms (such as sores).

In theory, then a wrestler could be fine at weigh ins, but by the time wrestling gets starts it reactivates.

On the other hand, that is always a possibility.

What happens next won't be known until later Tuesday afternoon.

I have no insight into which way the AIA is leaning, but one thing is for sure: If wrestling does continue I will not be shaking many hands before or after conducting interviews this year.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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