UPDATE: Wrestlers benched after outbreak of contagious skin condition

Published: Feb. 23, 2017 at 9:54 PM EST
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UPDATE 2/24/16 @ 6:30 p.m.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A contagious skin condition has sidelined 48 athletes from competing in the West Virginia State High School Wrestling Tournament.

It's the first time part of the tournament has been postponed in the 35 years the competition has been held at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Chase Gibson, a Hurricane High School senior, is among the athletes who has to sit out the competition.

"I would love to be wrestling on this stage right now but I guess I'm going to have to wait," Gibson told WSAZ. "It's just unfortunate. I mean, I guess it was a good thing that they postponed it but just the outbreak in itself was so ridiculous, I had no idea."

Three cases of HSV1 Virus, Herpes Gladiatorum in class AAA region IV, have been confirmed.

The virus was discovered in between last weeks class AAA region IV competition and the start of the state tournament on Thursday.

The virus, while not dangerous, is highly contagious and can spread quickly.

Dr. Thomas Rushton, infectious disease specialist at St. Mary's Medical Center, says most people think of the virus in its most common form as a canker sore.

"When it is there, it's going to be painful because this is a virus that is really infecting the nerves in the skin," Dr. Rushton said.

Athletes are checked by doctors and have to be cleared for competition. But Dr. Rushton says the abrasions can hide underneath the singlets and the virus can manifest after the check, meaning it existed beforehand but did not show sores until later.

"I wrestled the match and afterwards I was sitting in the stands and he comes up and says you need to shower as soon as possible because I have this disease on my chest and he pulls down his singlet and has it all over his chest," Gibson said.

Dr. Rushton says the wrestling environment is the perfect atmosphere for the virus to quickly spread but it cannot be cured by showering.

WVSSAC says there's an 18-day incubation period that will have to pass before the three weight classes can compete.

ORIGINAL STORY 2/23/16 @ 2:30 p.m.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Concern about a contagious skin condition has dimmed this weekend’s West Virginia State High School Wrestling Tournament at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Following an injunction filed in Wood County, there is uncertainty if competitors from three weight classes can compete at all in the 70th annual event.

Wrestling was supposed to get underway at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, but the WVSSAC was in consultation with doctors and lawyers to make a decision. Action was delayed until later in the evening.

The skin condition is contagious, and the wrestlers affected are in the 145-pound to 152-pound classes. As many as 48 wrestlers could be benched.

Parkersburg South is the favorite in Class AAA, while Parkersburg and Ripley are seeded second and third.

It was a difficult day for tournament director Bill Archer, who said this whole situation just came up in the last couple of days.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.