High School Wrestler Contracts Herpes From Match

On Feb. 19, 17-year-old Blake Flovin allegedly contracted herpes from a California high school wrestling tournament. He said, "I never thought from wrestling I could get [herpes gladiatorum], but now that we are researching and finding out it's actually a fairly prevalent thing ... "

Flovin, a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School, says his face is now marred with herpes-induced lesions. His father, Rick Flovin, said: "To go from a phenomenal senior year [and] top of your game to having your face look like the elephant man is horrific."

His mother, Rena Flovin, stated "It's sad. It makes me angry ... this was preventable." Blake was reportedly infected after participating in the Central Coast Section high school wrestling tournament at Independence High School.

Blake shared, "The left side of my face by my lymph nodes started to swell. It grew on the side of my face." He believes he contracted herpes from either one of the five wrestlers he was in contact with that day or the wrestling mat.

In addition, doctors have confirmed he has herpes gladiatorum - also known as mat herpes - a common illness among athletes.

Mark Dworkin, M.D., MPHTM, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "Skin contact is the primary mode of HSV-1 transmission. In wrestling, the head and neck are major points of contact, and over 90% of the lesions we observed erupted in this area."

The diagnosis came after Blake competed in other matches--this means other wrestlers may be at risk.

Blake’s family is now requesting the upcoming state wrestling championships be re-scheduled out of concern for the other students. Blake stated, "The most important thing here is kids’ health and that's my main message. Try and put this above everything else."

Rebecca Brutlag, a spokeswoman with the California Interscholastic Federation, said they will not postpone the tournament.

Photo: WGN TV

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