Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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