Officials Continue to Investigate Dutch Fork Rash Outbreak

7:34 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Lexington-Richland District 5 representatives have issued more information regarding the outbreak of rashes on the Dutch Fork High School wrestling team that caused the school to suspend the program completely.

According to District 5 Chief Information Officer Mark Bounds, the first case of wrestlers reporting rashes began over winter break, but that number grew to 17 teammates. Those who were infected were required to be cleared by a doctor before practicing or competing again as per the National Federation of High School Sports regulations.

Columbia-based dermatologist Dr. Dina Grice says wrestlers are the most common athletes she sees in her office because of the heavy contact between both opponents and the mats. With the roughness of the sport, skin injuries are common, but there are ways to differentiate between a mat burn and a condition needing treatment.

"The difference is that typically a fungal infection is going to be a little bit better or more demarcated," said Dr. Grice. "It tends to be circular with a definable edge and sometimes scale at the edge as well, so it will look a bit different than a simple burn."

As of Wednesday, Bounds says most of the 17 wrestlers have been approved to compete, but as a precaution, school officials suspended the season to confirm there is no further risk.

"While medial professionals and the Department of Health and Environmental Control have indicated the probable spread of these infections is 'skin to skin' contact, as an added precaution a professional cleaning team was brought in to clean and disinfect the locker room, weight room and wrestling room," said Bounds. "Though the symptoms were similar, there have been varying diagnoses. We are working to see if there is a conclusive (common) diagnosis."

In addition to showering after every practice, Dr. Grice says properly and consistently cleaning the equipment should be a standard practice to lessen the chance of infection.

"You can do a lot with soap and water and scrubbing as long as it's done properly," said Dr. Grice. "I think many of the agents used now are antiseptic-antibacterial type cleansers, but a cursory scrubbing of a mat is not always going to be sufficient."

Representatives say they're not releasing the information because it may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, but can confirm a meeting was held on Friday with both the wrestlers and their parents to encourage those infected to get follow-up treatment to confirm or modify their earlier diagnosis.

With laws like the HIPAA in place, Dr. Grice says doctors do not have to notify schools when a student is diagnosed, and urges all athletes with skin infections to sit out to prevent a similar case from happening in the future.

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