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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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Local students contract whooping cough

Some students in local classrooms have been diagnosed with pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough – in the past few weeks.

Whooping cough starts with symptoms similar to the common cold, including runny nose, congestion, sneezing, mild cough or fever. After one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin.

“All along we just thought it was a cold,” said one local parent, who asked to remain anonymous, of her daughter’s illness. “It wasn’t until she came home and said someone else in her class had whooping cough that we took her to the doctor.”

The parent said she let the illness go for a few weeks thinking it was just a cold. But when another of her children started to show symptoms and the school sent a cautionary letter to parents, she took her children to the doctor for a diagnosis.

“It kept lingering more than a normal cold,” the parent said of the illness. “Her cough was a stronger cough than an ordinary cold. The scary part of it is, when she is coughing, it doesn’t seem like she can catch her breath.”

The Santa Clara County Department of Health reported two cases of whooping cough from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View and seven cases in Santa Clara County over the past 45 days. While doctors are required to report pertussis, they don’t always make the report, so more recent cases may not have reached the county yet.

Joanna Lai, Bullis Charter School nurse, said there have been cases at the school in the past few weeks. Los Altos School District nurse Sarah Bolter said wasn’t aware of any cases in district schools, but parents are not required to report whooping cough.

Both Lai and Bolter said that if a classroom has more than one student with the same illness, then it is standard procedure to notify parents.

Symptoms and treatment

Charles Weiss, M.D., an urgent-care physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, warned that pertussis is highly contagious, so recognizing the symptoms early is important.

He stressed that there are differences between a common cough and the whooping cough. If a cough has lasted for more than two weeks or the person coughing can’t stop, it is probably whooping cough, he said. It is common for people suffering from pertussis to make a “whoop,” a high-pitched sound when breathing in after a coughing attack. Adolescents are especially susceptible to whooping cough, Weiss added.

Weiss said schools act as incubators and the condition can spread quickly. He advised those who think they might have it to undergo testing and seek treatment. Students may return to school after five days of antibiotics. The antibiotics don’t necessarily relieve the cough, but they do decrease the contagiousness.

Unfortunately, the cough can persist, he said. An old Chinese description of the illness calls it the “100-day cough.”

“It is just miserable,” Weiss said. “It takes a lot of energy and tires you out. And no one wants to be around you.”

Diagnosing whooping cough in its early stages can decrease the length of the illness, he said.

Immunizations

Infants are immunized for whooping cough with the TDaP vaccine, a combination of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccines.

In the 1990s, the U.S. switched from a whole-cell pertussis vaccine to a combined acellular pertussis vaccine. The switch resulted in fewer immediate side effects from the vaccine but is now proving ineffective in protecting against whooping cough for as long a period, Weiss said.

“So in just the past few years, we are seeing that the vaccine is not as effective,” he said. “The immunity wanes within a couple of years. I estimate that boosters and vaccinations can run out within five years.”

Incoming seventh-graders are required to get the TDaP booster, but the recent cases are being diagnosed in students younger than that. A whooping cough outbreak occurred in Palo Alto earlier this year, with 114 cases reported from April through August.

“There is sort of a periodicity to pertussis,” Weiss said. “It tends to come back every three to five years. Our last big outbreak was in 2010.”

Contracting whooping cough is typically not serious unless the patient is pregnant or an infant.

Earlier this year, the California Department of Health reported the best way to prevent infants from contracting pertussis is to have their pregnant mothers vaccinated during the final stages of pregnancy.

For more information, visit cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Pertussis.aspx.

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