The Principia & The Measles

The Principia School and College experienced measles outbreaks in 1985, 1989, and 1994. The following are related articles from newspapers, academic journals, CDC reports, books that discuss the outbreaks, and Principia College’s policies regarding immunization as of February 2014.

A 2009 article in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides a brief overview of the events:

In 1985, three Christian Scientists affiliated with Principia College in Elsah died, and 712 students were quarantined on campus, when an outbreak of measles sickened more than 100 people.

In 1989, another measles outbreak at Principia sickened nearly 100 people, including some off campus, not affiliated with the school.

In 1994, another outbreak spread to the Principia, which serves students pre-K through senior high in St. Louis County. Nearly 200 people contracted measles that year, including a doctor from Barnes-Jewish Hospital and an infant, both of whom were infected by Principia students off campus. Hundreds of Principia students and their parents ultimately decided to be vaccinated during the outbreaks, but many opted against vaccination. (source)

Principia College Immunization Policy

Principia College Immunization information.

Letter from the President (Feb. 2014) detailing responsibility to the campus re: communicable disease and prayer.

Principia College Immunization Exemption Form.

In the News

Measles Outbreak Quarantines College for Christian Scientists – latimes. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Measles Put Tiny College On The Spot – tribunedigital-chicagotribune. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Measles Spurs Call For Vaccinations – tribunedigital-chicagotribune. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Measle Deaths Tied To Lack Of Medical Care – tribunedigital-chicagotribune. (n.d.). Retrieved from

2d Measles Death At College Confirmed – tribunedigital-chicagotribune. (n.d.). Retrieved from

“Measles Trail Unvaccinated Students Turn 1 Case into 176” by Martha Shirk Of the Post-Dispatch – St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 8, 1994 | Online Research Library: Questia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Measles outbreak sparks renewed debate over vaccinations | West Newsmagazine. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Prayer or inoculation? H1N1 is newest dilemma Members of religious groups who forgo vaccines may put neighbors at risk, threaten common good. RELIGION. St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved from

CDC Reports & Congressional Records

Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Multiple Measles Outbreaks on College Campuses — Ohio, Massachusetts,Illinois. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The high attack rate (15.9%) at Principia College is undoubtedly due to these students’ very low immunization levels. This outbreak illustrates the potential severity of measles and the rapidity of spread in an unvaccinated population. The very high apparent death-to-case ratio (2.3%) is unusual in the United States, which usually has a reported death-to-case ratio of 0.1% or lower. The reasons for this high mortality are under investigation.

Current Trends Measles on College Campuses — UnitedStates, 1985. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The largest [outbreak] occurred at Principia College, a Christian Science college in Illinois (1). One hundred twenty-eight cases were reported between January 15 and March 10, including 113 among students and 15 among other residents. Three deaths related to respiratory complications of measles occurred among students and residents at the college.

Congressional Record, Volume 140 Issue 94 (Tuesday, July 19, 1994). (n.d.). Retrieved from

The other outbreak among persons opposed to vaccination began in two contiguous counties along the Illinois-Missouri border on April 4 when a Christian Science high school student became ill after skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado during a measles outbreak there. This student lived with her family on campus at Principia College, a Christian Science college in Jersey County, Illinois and commuted daily to the Principia Christian Science School (grades K-12) in St. Louis County, Missouri.

Outbreak of Measles Among Christian Science Students — Missouri and Illinois, 1994 Retrieved from

During April 4-May 17, 1994, the largest U.S. measles outbreak since 1992 occurred among students in two communities that do not routinely accept vaccination. This report summarizes the investigation of and control measures for this outbreak.

The outbreak began in a 14-year-old Christian Science high school student who developed a rash on April 4, 2 weeks after skiing in Colorado where a measles outbreak was occurring. The student lived with her family in a community associated with a Christian Science college in Jersey County, Illinois, and commuted approximately 30 miles to a Christian Science boarding school (kindergarten through grade 12 {K-12}) in St. Louis County, Missouri. From April 16 through May 19, 141 persons with measles (age range: 1-24 years) were reported to the St. Louis County Health Department, and 49 persons with measles (age range: 4-25 years) were reported to the Jersey County Health Department (Figure_1).

Academic Papers & Books

Molecular Epidemiology of Measles Virus: Identification of Pathways of Transmission and Implications for Measles Elimination — Retrieved from

Jennings, Charles E. “Measles among Religiously Exempt Persons.” Cases in Field Epidemiology: A Global Perspective. Comp. Mark S. Dworkin. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011. 83-89.