University takes precautions after health advisory

Isabella Gentile & Epke Paquette l Editor-in-Chief & Sports Manager

An email Director of Athletics Kiki Jacobs sent to varsity sport head coaches on Nov. 5 disclosed a skin infection within the wrestling team. All students did not receive an email addressing this issue until three days later, on Nov. 8.

It was then that the university began taking precautions. The hot tub and sauna were closed over the past weekend, according to Vice President of Student Life John King. They remained unavailable for use as of Wednesday evening.

The all-student advisory, written by Jacobs and Director of Health Services Anne Mitchell, said the Fitness Center staff would begin cleaning equipment on an hourly basis. They also asked students to help with keeping spaces like the locker rooms and gym clean, by spraying down all equipment before and after using it with the provided disinfectant spray.

The email emphasized the importance of personal cleanliness as well, especially for those who are involved with direct contact sports. It said skin-to-skin contact plays a large role in the transmission of these infections, which King echoed.

“It is important to put in perspective that the chances of anyone picking up [the infection] without skin to skin contact is extremely minimal,” King said. 

The type of skin infection has not been disclosed. King declined to say how many wrestlers contracted the infection, however he said they were unaccustomed to seeing the growing number of infections in such a short time period. It was this jump in the number of infections from the beginning of last week to Nov. 7 that prompted the creation of the all-student email.

King said skin infections are common within wrestling and they see infections every season. According to a 2013 report published by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, the most common infection that led to lost practice time in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wrestling was herpes gladiatorum, also known as mat herpes. 40.5% of lost practice time is attributed to this, a rate far higher than that of other skin infections.

Some other common infectious diseases include ringworm, scabies and Molluscum.

Jacobs and Mitchell also recommended individuals use their own towels and toiletries, practice frequent hand washing and avoid picking at skin lesions to reduce the chances of infection spreading. They added that practice and competition equipment should be cleaned after each use. 

Jacobs told The Hawks’ Herald that the wrestling team cleans their mats daily with solution, which is a common practice. She said they also shower with a special solution, which is standard. 

“The wrestling team is diligent about cleaning the mats,” King said.

Since the disclosure of skin infections on the team, King said he is not aware of any other student populations aside from wrestlers who have reported skin infections.

Captains of the wrestling team did not respond for comment.