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January 31, 2007

Herpes Outbreak Stalls High School Wrestling

The Associated Press is reporting today that high school wrestling programs in Minnesota have been suspended due to a herpes outbreak among the athletes.
The infection herpes gladiotorum is caused by the herpes simplex virus and typically causes a rash to occur on the face, neck, shoulders and arms for a period of 10 to 14 days, says The Star Tribune. Currently 2.6 percent of all high school wrestlers are pinned by the virus.
The virus is nicknamed "mat herpes" as it is most commonly found in wrestlers and athletes of other sports that involve high levels of skin-to-skin contact. Treatments for the virus include prescription drugs Zovirax and Valtrex.
The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that 7,500 wrestlers on 262 teams are affected by the suspension. 24 cases of the virus have been reported so far.
Though herpes lasts forever, the suspension ends February 6, which allows enough time for currently affected wrestlers to recover from their symptoms. Athletes still showing symptoms of the virus at the time of the state tournament, which is set to occur February 28-March 3, will not be eligible to compete.
This is the first time in history that Minnesota high school wrestling has been suspended due to a viral outbreak. Though sentiments have been mixed, some coaches feel that a suspension now is much less troublesome than a post-season interruption.

January 24, 2007

Asteroid May or May Not Destroy Planet Earth

Buzzle.com reported two weeks ago that an asteroid, amply named Apophis (an evil demon of Egyptian mythology) has the potential to collide with Earth in 2029.
Though it is not certain that the quarter-mile-wide asteroid will crash into Earth, it is nearly definite that it will pass within 18800 to 22600 miles of the planet at a speed of 28000 miles per hour. Aside from giving scientists a scare and potentially damaging satellites, this close call would not have any devastating effects on Earth.
The worry in the scientific community is hindered on the notion that if Apophis beats the 45000 to 1 odds and skirts past the Earth at a distance of exactly 18893 miles, it will be pulled into the planet's gravitational pull through a "gravitational keyhole." The result of this pull would cause Apophis to pulverize Earth.
Some scientists have postulated that if the asteroid in fact strikes the Earth, it will hit Russia and continue along into Central America and then to the Atlantic Ocean. The blast is said to carry the energy of 65000 Hiroshima bombs.
Though the impact prediction is sensational and enthralling like an action film, csmonitor.com has stated that "additional observations eliminated that possibility."
The impact debate is still alive in the scientific community, but one thing researchers have agreed upon is the fact that regardless of impact, there is still ample time to research the asteroid and prepare for any potential collision with Earth. Scientists currently have the technology to divert the asteroid's path using missiles to avoid a violent close encounter with the planet.