Skin infections, both bacterial and viral, are endemic in contact sports such as wrestling and rugby football. In this report, we describe four cases of extensive cutaneous herpes simplex virus in players on a rugby team. All players had a prodrome of fever, malaise, and anorexia with a weight loss of 3.6 to 9.0 kg. Two players experienced ocular lesions associated with cutaneous vesicular lesions of the face. A third player, who had herpetic lesions on his lower extremity, experienced paresthesias, weakness, and intermittent urinary retention and constipation. All infected players on the team were forwards or members of the "scrum," which suggests a field-acquired infection analogous to the herpetic infections seen in wrestlers (herpes gladiatorum). Considering the serious sequelae of recurrent herpes simplex keratitis, the traumatic skin lesions in rugby football players should be cultured for herpes virus, and infected individuals should be restricted from playing until crusted lesions have disappeared.
White WB, Grant-Kels JM. Transmission of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection in Rugby Players. JAMA. 1984;252(4):533–535. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350040063028
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