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News

First St. closure set for Saturday

First Street in downtown Los Altos will be closed Saturday (Nov. 22) between West Edith Avenue and Shasta Street for street paving. The closure is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the event of poor weather, the work will be rescheduled for a later ...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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