Of Mice, Men and Scrumpox

Herpes gladiatorum is caused by a highly infectious version of the human herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and is associated with high physical-impact sports – it frequently plagues rugby players (who know it as ‘Scrumpox’), along with Judo participants and Sumo Wrestlers.

For details of the latter, a paper by Fumihiko Ban, Satoe Asano, Shigeru Ozawa, Hiroyuki Eda, James Norman, William G. Stroop and Kazuo Yanagi in the Journal of General Virology, 89 (Pt 10): 2410-5 · November 2008, explains that :

“The pathogenic properties of HSV-1 variants in mice and professional sumo wrestlers were examined here.”

“The frequent severe skin damage of sumo wrestlers may impair subcutaneous nerve cells and the strong physiological and mental stress resulting from their hard practice regime may affect their immunological status.”

See: Analysis of herpes simplex virus type 1 restriction fragment length polymorphism variants associated with herpes gladiatorum and Kaposi’s varicelliform eruption in sumo wrestlers

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]