A skin rash common among wrestlers triggered a Herpes panic at a California high school last week, subjecting the school's wrestling team to ridicule and ostracism, the Merced Sun-Star reported Wednesday.
Three members of the wrestling team at Gustine High School in Gustine, Calif., sought medical attention after developing a rash on their upper bodies and were told that the condition likely was either herpes gladiatorum or staphylococcus aureus, rashes common in wrestling.
According to the report, however, before test results could confirm which condition was afflicting the wrestlers, school administrators ignited a near hysteria, sending out press releases and making an announcement over the school intercom system warning students, teachers and parents of a herpes outbreak in the school, and identifying the wrestling team as the source in a recorded phone message sent to parents.
The wrestlers claim they were ridiculed and humiliated as being diseased and dirty, shunned by their classmates and teachers alike. One wrestler claims a gym teacher made him sit in the corner with his coat on, an incident the school district is investigating, the Sun-Star reported.
Tests proved that all three wrestlers had the staph infection, not herpes. The athletes and their parents told the Sun-Star that they are outraged that the school self-diagnosed the wrestlers ahead of the medical results and furious that the team was identified as the source, a point the school denies.