EAST WENATCHEE — Eastmont schools Superintendent Garn Christensen and local health officials say an outbreak of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is the reason the Eastmont wrestling team’s operations have been suspended indefinitely.
The cause of what school officials previously labeled “skin irritations” was revealed Monday afternoon in a meeting with Eastmont wrestlers and parents.
Christensen told those gathered at the high school that decisions about whether the team will finish the season, or if the school will host the Class 3A regional meet on Feb. 12 as planned, will not be made until at least Wednesday. He also said he couldn’t confirm the number of students that have been identified as having HSV-1.
“We’re still learning what has to happen (in order for the season to continue) from the (Chelan-Douglas Health District),” Christensen said.
News of the problems plaguing Eastmont wrestlers first surfaced Jan. 18 when Wenatchee athletic director B.J. Kuntz announced the Wenatchee High School-Eastmont match for that night had been postponed. At the time, Christensen said about a dozen wrestlers were suffering from “skin irritations.” The WHS-EHS match was later scrapped altogether and Eastmont also had to postpone last week’s match against Kennewick.
On Saturday, Christensen announced the wrestling program’s activities had been suspended indefinitely.
During Monday’s meeting, Christensen said if the season is canceled, no Eastmont wrestlers will be allowed to wrestle in the postseason, “unless some other type of arrangements are made.” It would be a blow to seniors Joey Caron (160 pounds) and Johnny Martinez (215) and sophomores Fabian Wickham (103) and Darin Hardgrove (171), all of whom were expected to contend for state tournament berths.
Eastmont has two league matches left on its schedule — Thursday at Southridge, and Feb. 1 at home against Kennewick. The Kennewick match has been rescheduled twice since its original date of Jan. 20. Athletic director Dan White said there are no plans as of now to forfeit any matches.
Monday’s meeting largely dealt with ways students and parents can treat or prevent the virus.
According to officials from the Chelan-Douglas Health District and the Eastmont School District, HSV-1 is the same virus that causes cold sores, and is easily spread through skin contact. In the case of the Eastmont wrestling team, the virus has found openings on skin, creating lesions.
The virus has an incubation period of two to 12 days, and can live on wrestling mats anywhere from four hours to 12 days.
If HSV-1 gets into the eyes, it can cause blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and pain and redness of the eye. Christensen said the possibility of eye infections was an important factor in suspending the program’s operations.
Brent Stecker: 661-5222