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To determine if the fungal molds (dermatophytes) responsible for causing ringworm could be isolated from a section of wrestling mat during the 1998-1999 season.
A 2-part study was conducted. The first phase involved a culture evaluation of material taken from wrestling mats at 8 local high schools. The second phase was a bench laboratory study to determine if the fungus and molds could be grown from a wrestling mat in an optimal setting.
We obtained material from areas of the practice mats of 8 high school wrestling teams at monthly intervals during the wrestling season. A 0.61-m (2-ft)× 0.31-m (1-ft) area of mat from 1 of the schools was used for the laboratory phase of the study.
We cultured samples taken from each school's wrestling mats for growth of dermatophytes and used a questionnaire to determine the mat-washing habits and policies of each school. Also, wrestlers from the 8 schools were screened weekly by the designated team physician and certified athletic trainer. Any suspicious lesions were cultured for fungi.
No dermatophytes were grown from the swab specimens taken at the 8 schools, and no dermatophytes were isolated from a section of mat evaluated in optimal laboratory conditions.
It is unlikely that wrestling mats are a source of ringworm infections in wrestlers.