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Measles Outbreak Began at Ski Trip in Colorado

May 9, 1994

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ One of the 25,000 skiers who spent spring break in Summit County, Colo., apparently started a measles outbreak that has hit at least 176 people in six states, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.

The skier was probably free of symptoms during the late March vacation, but passed the highly contagious disease to a 29-year-old Joplin woman and a 14- year-old girl from Elsah, Ill., a small town near St. Louis, the newspaper said.

Both the woman and the girl broke out in a rash April 4, according to the newspaper.

The Joplin case didn’t spread. But the Elsah case spread because the girl’s family follows Christian Science, a religion that shuns medical care, including inoculations.

So far, all the victims in eastern Missouri and Illinois are Christian Scientists, according to the newspaper.

″This is a disease that is vaccine-preventable and could be totally stamped out - except in St. Louis County and Elsah, Ill., where we have this big population of unimmunized people,″ said Dr. Linda Fisher, St. Louis County’s chief medical officer.

All but a handful of the Missouri victims attend The Principia, a 96-year- old school for Christian Scientists in a St. Louis suburb, the Post- Dispatch said.

Five children from other states who visited The Principia in mid-April have developed measles as well, according to the newspaper. They live in New York, Maine, California and Washington.

Though usually benign, measles can be fatal. In the 1940s and early ’50s, 500 to 1,000 people died of measles each year. But the measles vaccine, introduced in 1963, has made measles so rare that many physicians today have never seen a case; the Joplin woman’s doctor first thought she had Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

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