A teenage star student athlete reportedly contracted herpes from a California high school wrestling tournament Feb. 19.
"I never thought from wrestling I could get [herpes gladiatorum], but now that we are researching and finding out it's actually a fairly prevalent thing ... " said 17-year-old Blake Flovin, KTVU reports.
Flovin, a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School, says his face is now marred with herpes-induced lesions.
"To go from a phenomenal senior year [and] top of your game to having your face look like the elephant man is horrific," said his father, Rick Flovin.
"It's sad," said the boy’s Mother, Rena Flovin. "It makes me angry ... this was preventable."
Blake was reportedly infected after participating in the Central Coast Section high school wrestling tournament at Independence High School.
The teenager says he began to show symptoms shortly after the event, experiencing itching and a rash.
"The left side of my face by my lymph nodes started to swell," said Blake. "It grew on the side of my face."
He believes he contracted herpes from either one of the five wrestlers he was in contact with that day or the wrestling mat.
Indeed, doctors confirm the young man has herpes gladiatorum - also known as mat herpes - a common illness among athletes.
"Skin contact is the primary mode of HSV-1 transmission," says Mark Dworkin, M.D., MPHTM, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports WebMD. "In wrestling, the head and neck are major points of contact, and over 90% of the lesions we observed erupted in this area."
Yet the diagnosis came after the infectious Blake had already competed in other matches, meaning more wrestlers may be at risk.
Blake’s family is now requesting the upcoming state wrestling championships be re-scheduled out of concern for the other students.
"The most important thing here is kids’ health and that's my main message," said Blake. "Try and put this above everything else."
However, and much to the family's dismay, Rebecca Brutlag -- a spokeswoman with the California Interscholastic Federation -- says they will not postpone the tournament.