Sat10252014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Parasite packs big bite: Tick-inflicted Lyme disease can leave a lasting mark for the unlucky few


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Los Altos resident Kathleen O’Rourke and her son, Louis Sheridan, contracted Lyme disease and now advocate preventive measures through the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

An afternoon of gardening may seem harmless, but it proved perilous for Kathleen O’Rourke more than four years ago. Bitten by a tick, the Los Altos resident was infected with Lyme disease.

Just months before her diagnosis, O’Rourke’s son, Louis Sheridan, fell severely ill from the disease, tipping her off to the possibility that she might also be infected. O’Rourke didn’t see or feel a tick bite, but she said she suspects coming in contact with a tick in her backyard, an area frequented by deer, one of the primary carriers. She believes a tick brought into the house by their dog bit her son.

While her son recovered within a year – thanks to antibiotic treatments – O’Rourke is only now recovering from the lingering fog that has hampered her cognitive and physical well-being.

“I’ve been through a war and I’m in repair phase,” she said.

Lyme – a bacterial ailment contracted through the bite of an infected tick – can cause severe brain and neurological damage if untreated. Anyone who frequents the outdoors or comes in contact with clothing or animals that transfer ticks is vulnerable to the disease.

According to the California Department of Public Health, an average of 200 cases of Lyme are reported annually in California. Santa Clara County recorded five cases in 2012 and 12 in 2011, the highest number of cases statewide.

“While Lyme disease is a health concern, our local case numbers do not indicate that Lyme disease is more of a health risk here in Santa Clara County than anywhere else,” said Santa Clara County health officer Marty Fenstersheib, who added that the rate of infected ticks is just 1-2 percent locally, compared with 15 percent along the northern coast of California. “But people should always be vigilant in protecting themselves, their children and their pets year-round.”

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has reported only one case of Lyme this year, but the active tick season (April through September) still has a long way to go.

Difficult to diagnose

O’Rourke experienced many of the symptoms characteristic of Lyme – fatigue, heart palpitation, dizziness and breathing complications. But she never developed the signature Bullseye Skin Rash that frequently develops within one month of a bite.

Through advocacy on behalf of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation – an organization she helped found to close the gap between research and clinical practice – O’Rourke discovered that only 14 percent of Lyme patients in California develop a rash at the onset of the disease, complicating diagnosis. As the disease often presents with flulike symptoms, she said, some patients and doctors confuse it with other illnesses or incorrectly assume that Lyme isn’t a problem in the state.

“You could go to 16 doctors and diagnosis is still a matter of luck,” O’Rourke said.

Cutting it off at the source

Before her son fell ill with Lyme, O’Rourke had never even seen a blacklegged tick, the species that carries the disease to mammals like deer, rodents and pets. When her family moved to Woodside – prior to living in Los Altos – their puppy picked up ticks from the grassy areas of the property and brought them into their home.

That led to her removing a dangling tick from her son’s stomach.

“I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do,” she said.

Avoiding the outdoors altogether is unrealistic, but there are ways to prevent tick bites and deter infection if bitten. When outdoors, Fenstersheib advises people to apply a tick repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET and soak clothing, shoes and gear in a Permethrin-based substance.

“People should avoid direct contact with ticks, such as wooded and bushy areas with high grass and/or leaves,” Feinstersheib said. “Instead, they should walk in the center of trails.”

Conducting a full-body tick-check after time outside and showering and washing clothes in hot water are also advisable, he cautioned.

To remove a tick, do not follow the instinct to pull it off hastily – use tweezers to grasp it by the mouth and pull directly up.

Quick removal can prevent infection and preserve the bug alive for testing.

“If you find a tick, put it in an envelope or jar and bring it to Vector Control,” said Dr. Carol Kemper, MD, FACP of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

The center will perform a molecular test to determine if the specimen carries Lyme.

For O’Rourke and other Lyme patients, returning to outdoor activities can be difficult.

“I used to be afraid of going outside,” O’Rourke said. “Now, I’m not ... but I wouldn’t sit under an oak tree.”

For more information on Lyme disease, visit cdc.gov/lyme or bayarealyme.org.

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