Mon09152014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Residents prepare for flu season


Photo By: Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo By Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Customers queue up at the Los Altos Walgreens, top, which briefly ran out of vaccine.

Los Altos isn’t yet seeing the level of flu infection causing worry on the East Coast, but the season is heating up here, too. At Walgreens pharmacy on Second Street, vaccine supplies ran out for a day last week. When the new shipment arrived, local residents queued up in clusters at the back of the store waiting for a jab.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone older than six months should be immunized with the flu vaccine. The CDC tweeted a warning last week – 128 of 135 million total doses have already been distributed. The vaccine may become increasingly difficult to obtain.

Jim Reynolds, one of the proprietors at Present gift store in downtown Los Altos, patiently waited his turn at Walgreens last week and said that reports of rising infections inspired his belated signup for the shot.

“I just kind of put it off,” he said, but “I watched the news and it’s getting bad around the United States, and I figured maybe I ought to participate.”

Los Altos resident Keane Johnson turned out for the shot after receiving an email from his rowing coach announcing that unvaccinated players wouldn’t be allowed to participate in practice. He was heading back to Boston College, where he’s a senior. Boston declared a state of public health emergency due to influenza last week, followed a few days later by New York State.

California braces

Charles Weiss, a doctor with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation who contributes to the group’s flu blog, reported that local influenza surveillance showed an uptick last week, with more than 10 percent of tests for influenza returning positive for the virus. But the total number of infected patients numbers in the dozens, not hundreds. He said the California region has been among the last to see elevated infections.

The state isn’t always last to start sniffling – Weiss notes that during the 2009 flu pandemic, California reported the first cases in the U.S.

Weiss said most of the sufferers in this area could weather a case of the flu at home, calling advice nurses as needed. But he noted that people in high-risk groups such as the very young or old and those with medical conditions that elevate the risk of complications should see a doctor if they become ill.

Pneumonia, one of the most common flu complications, occurs when the flu virus temporarily damages the lining of the respiratory tract, impairing its ability to clear itself. One warning sign of pneumonia occurs when a flu patient is getting better and suddenly becomes worse, or has a return of fever. Last year in Santa Clara County, eight patients required ICU-level hospitalization for influenza and one person died. As of Jan. 5, only one person has been similarly hospitalized this year.

Anti-viral agents such as Tamiflu can reduce the symptoms or duration of the flu, but their effect is moderate. Because the virus develops resistance as more Tamiflu is used, prescribing the treatment isn’t widespread for people at low risk of flu complications.

“There’s always reticence on the part of public health to distribute on a widespread basis a medicine that we worry about resistance developing to,” Weiss said. “It may reduce symptoms for about a day – but the overall benefit’s not as big (for typical flu sufferers) as it for the people at risk.”

He emphasized infection control measures, including staying home until a fever has been gone for 24 hours. People can spread the virus for five to seven days but tend to be more infectious while they have a fever.

Is it flu?

Wondering if you’ve already caught the flu this year? Sarah Cody, M.D., a deputy health officer for Santa Clara County, noted that the illness many called the “stomach flu” as children was most likely a norovirus, the pesky bug that causes 24-48 hours of extreme intestinal discomfort.

In contrast, “influenza virus gives you a high fever, cough, runny nose and headache, and in some groups of people it can be very serious and land them in the hospital or even cause death,” Cody said. “Kids can get vomiting with influenza, but it’s not one of the big features.”

Because one person can be hit harder by a virus than another, it can be difficult to distinguish between influenza and a cold, but Cody said body aches, chills and a feeling of just being “knocked out” tend to reflect influenza.

“If you feel run down, your nose is running, you feel kind of cruddy but you can kind of manage – that’s more coldlike symptoms,” she said. “The only one of these winter respiratory viruses that’s vaccine preventable is influenza. If you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated. It certainly is going to give you a better chance.”

It takes approximately two weeks to get the full benefit of the vaccine and develop immunity. The CDC reported last week that this year’s vaccine appears to have 62 percent efficacy at preventing the illness, which is comparable to most years.

Each vaccine dose this year includes three flu strains, H2N3, H1N1 and Flu B, which match approximately 91 percent of the circulating influenza viruses detected by CDC analysis. The predominant strain currently in circulation, H2N3, is associated with higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

Joe Bresee, a doctor in the CDC’s Influenza Division, said that while flu season timing is hard to predict, the virus would likely continue to be active for some time. Flu season usually peaks in January or February, but some years, infections surge as early as November and as late as April.

Residents who want to participate in local flu-tracking efforts may register at flunearyou.org.

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