New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 40 - Section 1

October 8, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos - More photos are in Section 2

New Alum Rock Village
Business Association logo

 

Do you Shop the Rock?
Please support our local businesses!

 

Andrea
Flores Shelton

Wildfire near
Alum Rock Park

Help is
on the way

 

Hector Vega
revealed

 

 

Vote No on
Prop. 85

 

Billi and Brad
Bening

 

Gustavo
Gonzales

 

Logos petunias
on Alum Rock

Quality on
McKee Road

 

Avenue B?
Why is it "B"?

 

Supervisor
Pete McHugh

 

Wood shake
roofs and ...

dry grass in
wildfire areas

 

Fall in Alum
Rock Park

 

 


Knock
Knock?

 

Comcast
Cares at JLHS

City of San Jose Annexation Answer Book: Read About It  Your Copy (Big PDF File)

Newsletter Headlines

bulletAn Idea Comes to Life for NNV Successor! - Get in on the “ground floor”
bulletNeighborhood Fire Gets Eastsiders’ Attention! Homes Threatened
bulletEastside “Mystery Boy” Unmasked - Lick grad, Hector Vega, puts self “on the line”
bulletCounty’s New Viewshed Policy for Hillside Development from Supervisor Pete McHugh
bulletMeasure A Rigid, Inflexible and Insensitive - County plan far superior by Rick Hartman
bulletWhat Do They Do Behind Those Mirrors at Planned Parenthood? Sex is here to stay!
bulletUnderstanding Bird Flu - Part 2 - How to protect your family by Neena Kirschner
bulletCommunity Volunteers: A tribute to Bradley and Billiana Bening by Bill Zavlaris
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletLick Alums and Community: Come On Down for JLHS Homecoming/Stadium Dedication!!
bulletAlum Rock School Board Election: “Gustavo Gonzales has my support” by Ellen Turner
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue: Logos Church beautifies the Avenue – La Bodega grows its blight
bulletOn McKee Road: Quality Tune-Up “tunes-up” corner
bulletAn Airport on Alum Rock Avenue? Really? You betcha! Avenue B marks the spot
bulletRegional Medical Center partners in Regional Golf for Health 2006 by Victoria Emmons
bulletPorter Lane Cherry’s Vineyard Development - Neighbors seek best possible solutions
bulletEast Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update - Got results? Judy wants to know!
bulletAlum Rock Park – Autumn Refuge - Photo by Richard Brown
bulletKnock-Knock, Knock-Knock? Knock-Knock-Knock!!! by Alum Rock Park Ranger Roger Abe
bulletComcast Cares About James Lick High School - Neighborhood school receives attention
bulletJames Lick Considers College Prep Model - Expert explains Santa Cruz success
bulletNNV Cat Finds His Tongue - “Sharing my point of view” by Schuster Es. Thompson
bulletLegal Eyes: Spite Fences (and Trees) - Beauty and privacy? by Stephen F. Von Till
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletOctober Hot Topics by UC Coop. Extension Master Gardeners Bracey Tiede and Larry Johnson
bulletNotable Neighbor: Arvind Kumar - Notable Mission: Promoting California Native Plants
bulletCunningham Wouldn't Know His Own Park by Patricia Loomis
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletIs it really true that there will be only two more editions of New Neighborhood Voice?
bulletWhat will the Alum Rock community do without a regular source for area news and views?
bulletDid Councilmember Nora Campos ever get her Annexation Answer Book?
bulletWhat about the City of San Jose’s transfer tax when homes are annexed into the city?
bulletWhat will the new retail building look like at the corner of McKee and Vista?
bulletWhat is happening with the Hillcrest “group home” for developmentally disabled adults?
bulletWhat is the big excavation in the yard of the landslide-damaged Alum Rock Avenue home?
bulletWhat did the renovation of Lick’s Administration Building entail?
bulletDid the deceased woman found in a garbage processing station have Eastside connections?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

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An Idea Comes to Life for NNV Successor!

A “Neighborhoods Network E-List”

Get in on the ground floor - help shape neighborhood dialogue

Hopeful beginnings are afoot to have a communications tool well underway when New Neighborhood Voice bites the dust next month. This continuity is important so that the new entity, a Yahoo Group called ARNNE (Alum Rock Neighborhoods Network E list) can be introduced to our old readership while we’re still in contact with you.

Andrea Flores Shelton, who lives in the Staples Avenue neighborhood behind St. John Vianney, is the initiator or facilitator for this project. She has a keen interest in the community and a commitment to creating unity in our diverse neighborhood. She knows how important communication is and she’s been researching successful endeavors around our area to help find a good model which will work here.

ARNNE (“Arnie”) is a vehicle similar to the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association E-list. A Yahoo Groups E-list is described as an “electronic equivalent of neighborly chats over the back fence.” Like WGNA, ARNNE needs a moderator to oversee it. Andrea says she will perform that role for the time being. However, she is a busy wife who holds down a 35–hour-per-week “part time” job and she’s the mother of a two–year-old, so her time is already stretched thin. She is meeting with other interested neighbors so, together, they can “figure this out,” she says. Your input and moral support are essential!

Something else to be considered is the possibility of producing some sort of hard copy of ARNNE dialogue for neighbors without computers or Internet access.

Andrea will continue to field your comments and suggestions at andrea-flores@sbcglobal.net – or just click on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alumrockneighborhoodnetwork/ to join this group. This is a great opportunity to help shape a vehicle for community dialogue post-NNV.

Click here for a photo of Andrea.

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Neighborhood Fire Gets Eastsiders’ Attention! Homes Threatened.

Thirty acres of grassland above Alum Rock Park blackened

Everyone who lives around Alum Rock Park was in a relieved, “dodged-a-speeding-bullet” mode on the morning of Sunday, September 24th, because the strong, scary winds of previous days – the kind of winds that drive fires - had subsided and the Red Flag warning had been lifted. That buoyant feeling was suddenly quashed at three o’clock that afternoon when the community looked up to see smoke rising from the steep slope above the northwest corner of the Park. We were probably all guilty of a little complacency when we noted the near absence of wind and concluded that it was a small fire and it couldn’t go far. Little did we know that the fire would become so tenacious and rapacious that even after several hours it would be deemed only 80% under control!

As we watched from our decks and roofs, the bright little rim of fire ate its way down the slope toward the park. The fire itself generated gusts which drove the flames toward the east. The folks living near the crest of the hill near Suncrest Avenue packed up precious belongings in preparation for evacuating their homes. Folks high up on Miradero Avenue – on the south side of the park – found their homes inundated by an ashy cloud of smoke.

A total of about a hundred firefighters from the San Jose Fire Department (SJFD) and the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) were called out to battle the flames. A CDF plane repeatedly wheeled low over the fire dropping orange showers of fire retardant. A CDF bulldozer ground its way along the lower edge of the fire gouging a firebreak. Helicopters clacked through the skies with loads of water to douse hot spots. The hills rang with the sirens of innumerable pieces of firefighting equipment.

The “dodged-the-speeding-bullet” humor returned before dusk when it was clear that the firefighters had done a magnificent job battling a would-be inferno to its knees – and there would be no loss of human lives or homes.

This fire provided people who live in our neighborhood an important heads-up. Dame Luck was certainly smiling on us that Sunday. If that fire had been accompanied by the gusty winds of the previous week – or if it had arisen during the night when planes and helicopters could not respond, there would have been many more than thirty acres incinerated and there could have been a tragedy of vast proportions. We can never allow ourselves to be complacent about the threat of fire in a Wildland Urban Interface area such as ours.

Click here for photos of the fire. Click here for the SJFD report and photos of the fire on their News & Public Information Blog. Click here to read a related FireSafe Council interview in this edition.

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Eastside “Mystery Boy” Unmasked in Mercury News Article

Lick grad, Hector Vega, puts self “on the line” in the immigration debate

Readers who read the story about the mysterious undocumented “Eastside Scholar” in the August NNV are perhaps wondering if the scholarship winner we referred to only as “the boy” was 18-year-old Hector Vega whose shadowed face peered out from the front page of the Mercury News on August 24th. Indeed Hector is “the boy.”

What we wanted to tell you in our early August story was that this exemplary young man was a co-valedictorian in June at our own James Lick High School. He and his mother live in our neighborhood. Hector credits James Lick and his fantastic Lick mentors, Julissa Huerta and Mildred Llanos-Richards, with his enormous academic success. But, we decided we shouldn’t reveal his name or school to our readers.

After interviewing him in June, we had our article and photos of Hector and his mentors ready to print. However, after some discussions with Ms. Huerta, we had to agree that publishing his name and the pictures might bring unwelcome attention to his undocumented status. This could harm his chances of taking advantage of his full four-year scholarship to Santa Clara University – and the $20,000 merit scholarship the Coca Cola Company has awarded him.

We had heard that Hector had also been interviewed by the Mercury News but assumed that they too were sitting on his story for fear of drawing negative reactions to this exemplary young man. So, it came as a shock to see Hector had bravely decided to expose his status and outspokenly advocate for others like himself who are in this country working hard to achieve their dreams and earn citizenship.

Readers may remember that the boy in our article had been featured in a Wall Street Journal story in May. They painted him as the poster boy for their story on Corporate Scholarship Donors who find their chosen recipients are in the country illegally. So, Hector’s name was really in the mainstream press – he was “out there” in a major way. We knew that this bell could not be unrung, but it did seem reasonable to allow Hector to quietly assume his place in the freshman class at SCU without flaunting his status further. The Wall Street Journal piece had drawn some really ugly responses from some readers* – sentiments which Hector could surely do without as he started on his university education.

We should have known that Hector’s strong character would win out. He learned to speak and write exemplary English in the short four and a half years he’s been in this country. And he learned to fight for justice. He’s not afraid to put himself in jeopardy if it means he can speak up for others who have come to the United States in a “quest for a better life.”

Click here to read Hector Vega’s moving valedictory keeping in mind that this phenomenal youth has been a student of English just since 2002. Click here for photos of Hector and his mentors.

* Though not as vociferous as the WSJ letter writers, many of the writers to the Mercury News letters page responding to the article on Hector were quite unsympathetic, also - to put it mildly.

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County’s New Viewshed Policy Improves Guidelines for Hillside Development

Valuable guidelines would be negated by Measure A!

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

On August 29, 2006, the Board of Supervisors adopted General Plan, zoning text and zoning map amendments to implement new viewshed protection regulations. The amendments establish clear guidelines for hillside development in County unincorporated areas. These changes aim to preserve the predominantly natural appearance of hillsides and minimize the visual and environmental impacts of hillside development. The regulations strive to provide reasonable options and flexibility for hillside property owners, as well as process and economic incentives.

The approved amendments will only affect parcels located within the “primary viewshed” area of the unincorporated County. Primary viewshed areas are defined as the first ridge or hillside areas approximately one to two miles from the edge of the valley floor. Under the new policy, the County will attach the “–d1” designation to affected parcels. This designation will require design review for hillside development. Parcels in the “secondary” viewshed, or those parcels not visible from the valley floor, however, are exempt from the new requirements.

The primary impact of these changes is the increased use of design review for hillside development. The purpose of design review is to encourage quality design and to mitigate potential adverse impacts of development. The process generally provides for review and conditional approval to assure quality residential development in areas deemed visually sensitive. Currently, a zoning administrator holds a public hearing and approves design review applications.

The most significant change to design review is the creation of a new, three-tiered process. Tier 1 will apply to homes 5,000 square feet or less. It will require paint colors that have a Light Reflectivity Value (LRV) of 45 or lower and will only require an administrative review. Tier 2 will apply to homes between 5,001 and 12,500 square feet. This tier will require design review by staff, and will place a stronger emphasis on siting, topography and the use of landscaping and existing vegetation to reduce visual impacts. Tier 3 will apply to homes over 12,500 square feet. This tier has the strictest requirements and will require a hearing before the Planning Commission for project approval.

The tiered review process creates a stronger incentive to build small to moderate-sized homes. Because lower-tiered projects require less intensive review, applicants will save money by building smaller homes. The design review requirement can add as much as $1,500 in application fees to the overall development costs of building a new home. Regardless of which tier is applied, any decision made by either staff or the Planning Commission may be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

In addition to the increased use of design review, the amendments modify policies on grading, development on slopes of 30% or more, and ridgeline development. Further, the new policy will not place limits on the size of structures in the primary viewshed areas, nor will it make changes to allowable uses or minimum lot size. It will also allow the reasonable use of ridge areas with mitigation and rebuilding of legal homes in the event of disaster. Other improvements to the policy and ordinance include the exemption of basement floor area in calculating a home’s total square footage, and an expanded list of exemptions for small projects.

I believe the new viewshed policy appropriately balances the goals of preserving our natural resources with protecting the rights of property owners. It provides a reasonable amount of flexibility for hillside property owners and recognizes the value of preserving the County’s natural environment. I am confident that this new policy will play an important role in maintaining the quality of life for all County residents and future generations.

Pete McHugh
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County
www.pmchugh.org 
pmchugh@bos.sccgov.org 

NNV Note: Also see the Measure A article below and a Letter to the Editor on Measure A.

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Measure A Rigid, Inflexible and Insensitive

County plan for Viewshed Development far superior

By Rick Hartman, AIA

The County of Santa Clara Planning Department has developed a Design Review Process for Viewshed properties which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in August (see article above).

They began the project by researching hillside development issues and policies in many other California jurisdictions and then called together a committee of diverse members, holding numerous open meetings to discuss the creation of rules and guidelines for building on these properties.

The resultant policy has a tiered process based on location and size of project. The new Design Review process ensures that hillside development is sensible but not completely curtailed.

The new Policy will also continue to be monitored by the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors to ensure that the rules are appropriate. The policy can be tweaked and refined on an ongoing basis as the need arises. Certain exceptions have been included in the Policy to ensure there is flexibility in the rules so that no individual property becomes unbuildable by virtue of the policy. And this flexibility also allows for loopholes to be closed. Inflexibility of the rules could unintentionally render a property worthless, wiping out the investment of the property owner.

In order to obtain approval to build a house or add more than 500 square feet to an existing house, a property owner must provide a long list of reports and plans to the County, i.e. plans of existing conditions, grading and drainage plans, road plans to ensure fire truck access is possible, geology report, soils report, archaeology report, environment impact report, septic system design, well report. These reports cost thousands of dollars as do the submittal of applications to the County. These applications are reviewed by Planning, County Geology, Land Development, Roads and Airports, Environmental Health and the Fire Marshall.

One must first receive the OK from the County that ‘something’ may be built on the property. Then another set of applications is required for projects in the Viewshed consisting of actual site plans showing placement of the building(s), floorplans, exterior design, landscaping plans, colors and the like. THEN, yet another set of plans that are called Construction Drawings or Working Documents are provided to the Building Department and reviewed to ensure they adhere to the various Building Codes. Each phase of the project costs thousands of dollars.

No one begins a project on a whim.

On the other hand, Measure A proposes rules that are rigid and inflexible, having no built-in procedure for easily modifying the rules as needed. It was also not developed with sensitivity to both sides of the property development issue.

Measure A was written by people who are anti-development and by environmentalists who want to reduce the rights of property owners to develop their own property by usurping the County Planning Department’s job and taking that control for themselves.

The County Planning Department has developed, in public, with much research and many thoughtful conversations, a sensible set of new rules which are a compromise between the rights of a property owner and those who view the hills as an attribute of living in the Valley.

Those who are responsible for Measure A have misled the public by acting as though development in the hills has run amuck. Truly, there are some homes on the hills for which it is difficult to say anything complimentary. However, the process to develop one’s land is an arduous and expensive one and the new County Viewshed Policy will ensure that hillside properties are developed sensitively and sensibly.

Responsibility for review of hillside development should remain in the hands of the people most qualified to do so, the County of Santa Clara Planning Department. Let them do their job.

Rick Hartman
Architect
Viewshed Committee Member
Hillside property owner

NNV Note: Rick has been a San Josean since 5th grade. He's lived here steadily for almost 40 years - except for his college years, he says.

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New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors

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Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925, www.lifestyleprop.com
The REALTOR© You Choose Does Make a Difference, E-mail ellen@lifestyleprop.com 

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Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400

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E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company

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Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail Restatelady@aol.com 

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Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org 

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MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, www.MBA-Architects.net 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects;  marvin@mba-architects.net 

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Mark DeTar, INTERO Real Estate Services, (408) 482-1727
Call or click today WWW.MarkDeTar.com or e-mail mdetar@detarprop.com  

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 and 2006 Sponsors

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The Coffee Cup, Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Sun-Mon 6AM–2PM, Tue-Sat 6AM – 4PM, 3477 McKee Road, (408) 254-0755

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Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering Contractor, (408) 244-4791
CA Lic. 762792 A&B, "Basements, retaining walls, and complex foundations"

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Regional Medical Center of San Jose, www.RegionalMedicalSanJose.com 
225 North Jackson Avenue, San Jose, CA 95116-1691, 1-888-RMC-8881, Dedicated To Your Well Being.

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Gustavo Gonzalez ABR, Real Estate, Finance & Investments, (408) 646-1236
VALLEY VIEW PROPERTIES, 342 Valley View Avenue, Web Site, E-mail

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ANTIPASTOS by DeRose, Gourmet Meat, Fish, Deli, Dine In or Out, (408) 251-5647
3454 McKee Road (at the corner of Kirk and McKee).  Long-time neighborhood favorite!

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Lisa Blaylock, Coldwell Banker, 408-377-LISA (5472), www.lisablaylock.com, lisa@lisablaylock.com
Coldwell Banker’s TOP 100 Agents! Serving my clients since 1986. I grew up and live in the East Foothills!

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Low Cost In-Home Care. Call Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA at (408) 254-4650 or e-mail sally@sjrrn.com.

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ALUM ROCK VILLAGE Business Association, "Shop the Rock"
Conveniently located at Alum Rock Avenue and White Road in San Jose

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Utopia Home Services, Quality On-Time Home Repair Services
Call Dave Leone at (408) 506-2297 or e-mail dtahoe@pacbell.net for quotes

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What Do They Do Behind Those Mirrors at Planned Parenthood?

Sex is here to stay – no doubt about it!

Have questions? See answers below

The mirrored windows of Eastside Planned Parenthood present the look of anonymous business offices to passersby on Alum Rock Avenue in the Village. However, once through the double doors, one leaves the slick, blank exterior behind and enters warm waiting rooms abuzz with youthful voices and vibrant conversations. This is where topics which impact young lives forever are discussed - every day.

The clinic staff, about twenty strong, sees a mini League of Nations clientele. Reflecting the demographics of the Alum Rock community, Eastside’s patients are predominantly of Latino, Vietnamese and Filipino heritage. However, there are abundant Anglo and African-American names and faces, too, and representatives of just about every culture on the globe. Most of the staff members are bi-lingual English/Spanish. One clinician speaks Shona, the language of Zimbabwe. The clinic manager speaks English, Spanish, Dutch and even American Sign Language! Languages spoken by clinic volunteers include Assyrian and Cantonese.

Eastside Clinic is a reproductive health and family planning clinic. It serves between 60 and 100 clients a day. Most are there to establish or maintain a reliable means of postponing parenthood until it’s appropriate. Associated with planning for future parenthood is protecting reproductive capability by preventing and treating sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). Both males and females come to Eastside to be tested or treated confidentially.

What is the atmosphere in a clinic where sexuality and its ramifications are discussed openly and frankly in several languages five days a week? Well, frankly, it’s liberating! Planned Parenthood’s pleasant staffers are trained to put patients at ease as they interview and counsel them. No question is so weird that it can’t be answered thoughtfully. Embarrassment and inhibitions are put to rest so real teaching and learning can happen. Everyone acknowledges that sex is decidedly here to stay and that ideally every child should come into the world a “wanted” child.

Some people think that Planned Parenthood’s major mission is performing abortions. Not so - but “medical” abortions are available at Eastside Clinic. This means that RU486 is given orally to halt early unplanned pregnancies – if this is the woman’s choice. Abortion is one of the less performed services at Eastside (and at most Planned Parenthood clinics) and appointments for abortions are far outnumbered by those for contraception, counseling, testing and treatments. It may surprise readers to know that the clinic provides prenatal services to low-income women in our neighborhood.

Some FAQ’s on Planned Parenthood:

Does Eastside provide Plan B or other emergency contraception? Yes, even to young women under age 18 who Planned Parenthood feels are likely to need it just as much - or more - than their older sisters. (Emergency contraception or “EC” is not RU486!)

Can one get condoms at the clinic? Yes, with no questions asked! Can one get an HIV test? A pregnancy test? Yes, and yes.

Are Planned Parenthood’s services free? The answer to this varies with eligibility for various state programs, but generally fees are based on a sliding scale. The less one earns and the more mouths a paycheck has to feed, the lower the fees for services. Can private insurance be used at Planned Parenthood? Not for most services, but one can pay for services out of one’s own pocket if ineligible for subsidized care.

Does the clinic maintain confidentiality? Absolutely.

Is it accurate to say that Planned Parenthood is pro-abortion? No, but it is pro-Choice. Planned Parenthood would like to see prevention and education eliminate the need for abortions, but until that day comes, it’s there to help people make the most informed choices possible and to make needed services available.

At Planned Parenthood some of life’s most fundamental challenges are addressed successfully. It’s a place where women and their needs are respected. And the results are gratifying!

NNV Note: Your editor has been happily volunteering at Eastside Planned Parenthood Clinic in Alum Rock Village for nearly 12 years. The staffers are warm and fun. The opportunities for meaningful volunteer service and camaraderie are exceptional. Click here for photos.

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Understanding Bird Flu - Part 2 of 2

How to protect youself and your family

What is CDC doing to prepare for a possible H5N1 flu pandemic?

And what can you do to stay flu-free?

By Neena Kirschner, Director of Infection Control, Regional Medical Center of San Jose

What is CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) doing to prepare for a possible H5N1 flu pandemic?

CDC is taking part in a number of pandemic prevention and preparedness activities, including:

• Working with the Association of Public Health Laboratories on training workshops for state laboratories on the use of special laboratory (molecular) techniques to identify H5 viruses.

• Working with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and others to help states with their pandemic planning efforts.

• Working with other agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration on antiviral stockpile issues.

• Working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vietnamese Ministry of Health to investigate influenza H5N1 in Vietnam and to provide help in laboratory diagnostics and training to local authorities.

• Performing laboratory testing of H5N1 viruses.

• Starting a $5.5 million initiative to improve influenza surveillance in Asia.

• Holding or taking part in training sessions to improve local capacities to conduct surveillance for possible human cases of H5N1 and to detect influenza A H5 viruses by using laboratory techniques.

• Developing and distributing reagents kits to detect the currently circulating influenza A H5N1 viruses.

• Working together with WHO and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on safety testing of vaccine seed candidates and to develop additional vaccine virus seed candidates for influenza A (H5N1) and other subtypes of influenza A virus.

With all the attention focused on the potential for an Avian flu pandemic, it can be easy to miss the arrival of regular flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 13 states reported some flu activity by the third week of October 2005.

Last year at this time, the flu appeared to be responsible for about six percent of deaths in the U.S. cities that were surveyed, which was safely below the threshold needed to qualify as an epidemic at this time of year. Still, the current flu season is no small worry. At least 200,000 Americans are likely to be hospitalized from influenza this season, which could cause as many as 36,000 deaths due to flu complications.

"Pandemic flu at this point is a worrisome possibility," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, the CDC director, at a press conference last fall. "But certainly not on our doorsteps, as we're facing the beginning of this year's flu season."

So how can you stay flu-free?

Be Felix, not Oscar
Like Felix in the show the Odd Couple, it's best to be uptight about personal hygiene. The flu is easily spread in closed quarters like an office or school. Make sure to wash your hands often with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. In a recent study from the University of Colorado that looked at students living in dorms; those who washed their hands more often had a lower risk of colds and flu.

Vaccinate the Kids First
While flu shots should be given to those most at risk for flu complications such as the elderly and very young (above the age of six months), anyone can benefit. But inoculating schoolchildren first may better prevent others from getting the flu.

"Children have more influenza in their body when they get sick," says Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, an immunization specialist at PATH, a public health advocacy group. This means that preschoolers are naturals at spreading the flu, not to mention the fact they have the cleanliness habits of, well, a four-year old. "When you have a flu outbreak, it's usually a school that gets closed," says Neuzil.

Don't Stress Out
During some years, there seems to be plenty of flu vaccine to go around, so don't worry about not getting your shot. Besides, chronic stress can undermine the effectiveness of the flu shot. "Our studies showed that people who have lots of stress going on in their lives have poorer responses to the influenza vaccination," says Dr. Vikki Burns of the University of Birmingham in England.

On the other hand, those who experience some brief anxiety, like missing an important meeting because they have to wait in a long line for a flu shot, take better to a vaccine. "Stress is only good for immune function if it is very brief, experienced immediately before vaccination," she says.

Stay Home
At the first signs of you or your child feeling sick, call your boss or child's school and tell them you're staying home because public health experts tell you so. You are most contagious during the first few days of flu. "By staying home, you can protect against inadvertently infecting others," says Neuzil.

The symptoms of the flu are similar to a common cold, but you will generally feel more miserable very quickly if you come down with influenza. The elderly and others who are more at risk for complications should immediately see a doctor if they think they have the flu.

General signs and symptoms of typical
influenza and avian influenza cases

Typical Influenza: Avian Influenza includes typical
influenza signs and symptoms, plus:
 Fever, cough, sore throats  General malaise
 Muscle aches  Upper respiratory infection
 Eye Infections  Severe Respiratory complications
 Pneumonia  Life Threatening complications

Stock Pile Over-the-Counter Remedies
If you're in good health to begin with, don't worry about hoarding Tamiflu or other antiviral drugs to protect against the seasonal flu. These drugs have to be taken within the first 48 hours of getting the flu to be effective. Even if you get a prescription in time, it will only shorten the symptoms by roughly a day.

Tylenol or Advil can help get you through the worst of the flu, which typically clears up on its own in a week. If you stockpile Tamiflu, you run the risk that someone who really needs it can't get it.

Consumers: Food Safety Guidance
There is no evidence that any human cases of avian influenza have been acquired by eating poultry products. Influenza viruses such as H5N2, H7N2, and H5N1 are destroyed by adequate heat, as are other food-borne pathogens. Consumers are reminded to follow proper food preparation and handling practices, including:

• Cook all poultry and poultry products (including eggs) thoroughly before eating. (This means that chicken should be cooked until it reaches a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, throughout each piece of chicken.)

• Raw poultry always should be handled hygienically because it can be associated with many infections, including salmonella.

Therefore, all utensils and surfaces (including hands) that come in contact with raw poultry should be cleaned carefully with water and soap immediately afterwards. The World Health Organization has developed food safety guidance for the current situation in Asia. This is available at http://www.who.int/foodsafety/micro/avian/en/.

How Does Seasonal Flu Differ From Pandemic Flu?

Seasonal Flu Pandemic Flu
Outbreaks follow predictable seasonal patterns; occurs annually, usually in winter, in temperate climates Occurs rarely (three times in 20th century - last in 1968)
Usually some immunity built up from previous exposure No previous exposure; little or no pre-existing immunity
Healthy adults usually not at risk for serious complications; the very young, the elderly and those with certain underlying health conditions at increased risk for serious complications Healthy people may be at increased risk for serious complications
Health systems can usually meet public and patient needs Health systems may be overwhelmed
Vaccine developed based on known flu strains and available for annual flu season Vaccine probably would not be available in the early stages of a pandemic
Adequate supplies of antivirals are usually available Effective antivirals may be in limited supply
Average U.S. deaths approximately 36,000/yr Number of deaths could be quite high (e.g., U.S. 1918 death toll approximately 500,000)
Symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, muscle pain. Deaths often caused by complications, such as pneumonia. Symptoms may be more severe and complications more frequent
Generally causes modest impact on society (e.g., some school closing, encouragement of people who are sick to stay home) May cause major impact on society (e.g. widespread restrictions on travel, closings of schools and businesses, cancellation of large public gatherings)
Manageable impact on domestic and world economy Potential for severe impact on domestic and world economy
For additional information on seasonal flu visit: http://www.hhs.gov/flu/ For additional information on pandemic flu visit: http://www.pandemicflu.gov

Last updated: November 1, 2005

Preparing for Pandemic Influenza - What you can do!
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide. The federal government, states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic.

A pandemic is likely to be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many areas of society such as schools, work, transportation and other public services. An informed and prepared public can take appropriate actions to decrease their risk during a pandemic.

Communities, Businesses and Individuals Should:

• Develop preparedness plans as you would for other public health emergencies.

• Participate and promote public health efforts in your state and community.

• Talk with your local public health officials and health care providers. They can supply information about the signs and symptoms of a specific disease outbreak.

• Implement prevention and control actions recommended by your public health officials and providers.

• Adopt business/school practices that encourage sick employees/students to stay home.

• Anticipate how to function with a significant portion of the workforce/school population absent due to illness or caring for ill family members.

• Practice good health habits, including eating a balanced diet, exercising daily and getting sufficient rest. Take these common-sense steps to stop the spread of germs.

 Wash hands frequently with soap and water

 Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues

 Stay away from others as much as possible if you are sick

 Clean work areas

 Disinfect telephones

• Stay informed about pandemic influenza and be prepared to respond.

• Consult www.pandemicflu.gov frequently for updates on national and international information on pandemic influenza.

• Use national and local pandemic hotlines that will be established in the eventuality of a global influenza outbreak.

• Listen to radio and television and read media stories about pandemic flu.

Revised: October 31, 2005

Click here for Part 1 of Understanding Bird Flu if you missed it last month.

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Click here for Section 2 of the October 2006 Newsletter

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