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Author Archives: WSS News

Fontana Unified Graduates Nearly 3,200 Students

FONTANA, CA- Close to 3,200 students from Fontana Unified School District’s five comprehensive high schools, two continuation schools and adult school capped their high school careers with graduation ceremonies last week at the Citizens Bank Arena. Among the Class of 2016 graduates, two are headed to Stanford University and several others bound for UCs, CSUs and universities across the nation.

Summit High School and Birch and Citrus continuations schools held their ceremonies on May 23. Fontana and Kaiser high schools held their ceremonies May 24. A.B. Miller and Jurupa Hills high schools held their ceremonies May 25. The Fontana Adult School held its event on May 27.

Fontana Unified Board President Lorena Corona congratulated members of the Class of 2016 for their academic and personal achievements and encouraged students to pursue post-secondary dreams.

 “Words cannot express how proud I am of everything these students have accomplished and that they have demonstrated their ability to reach a high level of academic success,” Corona said. “I wish all of them the best of luck in whatever endeavors they choose to pursue after high school.”

Carlos Ciudad-Real is one of two Kaiser High School valedictorians headed to Stanford University, where he will major in environmental systems engineering. Joining him at the prestigious university will be Jaime Hurtado-Lopez, who will study bioengineering/environmental engineering.

Hurtado-Lopez, a Gates Millennium Scholar and QuestBridge scholarship winner, has advice for the next generation of students: “Don’t lose track of what is important. Enjoy your time here, but stay focused.”

Fontana Unified’s graduates will attend state and national universities, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Cal Poly Pomona as well as many other campuses in the University of California and California State University systems.

“The fact that we have students moving onto some of the most prestigious universities in the country shows that our schools are engaging students in way that prepares them for college and careers,” Fontana Unified Superintendent Dr. Leslie Boozer said. “Fontana Unified strives to empower all students to be successful. The caliber of universities and colleges they attend demonstrates our ability to live up to that mission.”

For more information on this year’s valedictorians and salutatorians, visit www.fusd.net/announcements2/2015-16/vals_and_sals.stm.

High-tech mosquitoes could combat Zika virus

Urban News Service - Oxitec male mosquitoes released from pot in Jacobina Brazil[13]By Josh Peterson, Urban News Service

Genetically modified mosquitoes could mean curtains for the Zika virus.

New U.S. cases of Zika virus infections are continually being discovered as the Food and Drug Administration looks to these high-tech mosquitos as a possible solution.

Zika’s potential to spring from mosquito “nurseries” in the American South could hammer poor minority communities as summer heats up. Atlanta has the nation’s worst mosquito problem, according to Orkin, the pest control company. Mosquitoes only need standing water to spawn.

Scientists believe Zika spreads when a female mosquito feeds off of an infected person and later bites a new victim. Harmless male mosquitoes feed on flower nectar.

Zika also can be transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Symptoms, while rare, can last for a week and range from a mild fever to muscle and joint pain.

Concerns rocketed after last year’s discovery that Brazilian babies with unusually small skulls and brains were born to mothers who contracted the virus while pregnant. Brazil’s Zika woes continue as athletes, fans, journalists and others from around the globe prepare to converge on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, is battling potential local Zika infections.

The Aedes aegypti, which lives in the Deep South, is one of several mosquitoes that scientists believe spread the virus.

Specialists with Fulton County’s Department of Health and Wellness, according to the agency, are working with Georgia’s Department of Public Health and the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor outbreaks and educate the community.

“The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus will bite four or five people before they are satisfied,” said Nancy Nydam, spokeswoman for Georgia’s health department. She said people should use insect repellent, eliminate standing water around their homes and stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active.

An $85-million fund is available to states, cities and territories at risk of Zika outbreaks, the CDC announced on May 13. The money would finance Zika-prevention efforts only temporarily, said Dr. Stephen C. Redd, a director at the agency. More money from Congress is needed, he said.

The CDC reported that between January 1, 2015 and May 18, all of the 544 U.S. Zika cases are travel-associated, meaning the virus was originally contracted abroad. To date, 157 pregnant women in the U.S. have reported symptoms.

New York logged 114 travel-related cases, the highest number in America. Florida was second with 109, and California’s 44 cases put it in third. Texas was fourth, with 35 reported infections. These states all have high black and Hispanic populations, foreshadowing what this disease could do to these communities.

Among 836 Zika cases in U.S. territories, 832 were contracted locally. These include 803 infected people in Puerto Rico, 15 in the Virgin Islands, and 14 in American Samoa.

Oxitec, a British biotechnology company, is testing its genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida.

Oxitec’s male mosquitoes mate with wild female Aedes aegypti, producing offspring that “have a very high probability of dying before they reach adulthood,” according to its website.

Mosquitoes generally live about two weeks.

The company’s experiments “have resulted in reduction of the wild population by more than 90 percent,” said Oxitec spokesman Matthew Warren. “Existing methods to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, such as insecticides, are only 30 to 50 percent effective, at best.”

More than 150 million Oxitec mosquitos have been released, Warren said, with no reported adverse effects.

Oxitec’s mosquitos were one possible approach within a larger program, said FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman. “However, it is too early to say with any certainty whether such an approach would be successful.” The agency approves and regulates biotechnology treatments, including vaccines.

“The FDA is acting responsibly with its mosquito pilot approach, and we’re glad to see that the CDC has activated the resources to respond,” said Adolph Falcon, executive vice president for the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

Oxitec’s solution, however, only targets one mosquito species. Also, pesticides no longer could be used against the insects, since they would kill both the dangerous female mosquitoes and the modified males.

Mosquito breeding habits show Zika disproportionately could affect poor countries and communities with inadequate sanitation.

A still-undiscovered Zika vaccine and improved sanitation would be more effective solutions, said Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety.

“People like magic,” said Hanson. “We want easy answers and we like technology. I’m a big fan of technology, but it needs to be assessed for it what it can do.”

Welcome to Medicare

Cate Kortzeborn

Cate Kortzeborn

By Cate Kortzeborn

Have you recently enrolled in Medicare, or will you in the near future?

If so, let me be the first to say, welcome! What should your first step be as a new Medicare beneficiary? I recommend taking advantage of the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive-care benefit.

During the first 12 months that you have Medicare Part B, you can get a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit with your doctor. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health. Your doctor will also offer education and counseling about preventive-care services, including certain disease screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed.

When you make your appointment, let your doctor’s office know that you’d like to schedule your “Welcome to Medicare” visit. You pay nothing for this if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment rates.

If your doctor or other health care provider performs additional tests or services during the visit that aren’t covered under this preventive benefit, you may have to pay coinsurance, and the Part B deductible may apply.

Here’s what your doctor will do during your “Welcome to Medicare” visit:

  • Record and evaluate your medical and family history, current health conditions, and prescriptions.
  • Check your blood pressure, vision, weight, and height to get a baseline for your care.
  • Make sure you’re up-to-date with preventive services such as cancer screenings and shots.
  • Order further tests, depending on your general health and medical history.

Following the visit, your doctor will give you a plan or checklist with free screenings and preventive services that you need.

You should do a little preparation before you sit down with your doctor. Pull together your medical records, including immunization records. Even if your current physician does the visit, gather as much medical information as you can to make sure nothing is overlooked.

Try to learn as much as you can about your family’s health history before your appointment. The information will help you and your doctor understand what screenings you should get and what to watch for in the future.

And bring a list of any prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements that you currently take, how often you take them, and why.

If you’ve had Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get a yearly “Wellness” visit to develop or update a personalized plan to prevent disease or disability based on your current health and risk factors.

Medicare covers this visit once every 12 months.

Your doctor or other provider will ask you to fill out a questionnaire, called a “Health Risk Assessment,” as part of this visit. Answering these questions can help you and your provider develop a personalized prevention plan to help you stay healthy and get the most out of your visit. The questions are based on years of medical research and advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When you make your appointment, let your doctor’s office know that you’d like to schedule your yearly “Wellness” visit.

Note: Your first “Wellness” visit can’t take place within 12 months of your enrollment in Part B or your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. However, you don’t need to have had a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit to qualify for a “Wellness” visit.

As with the “Welcome” visit, you pay nothing for the yearly “Wellness” visit if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment rates.

If your doctor or other health care provider performs additional tests or services during the same visit that aren’t covered under this preventive benefit, you may have to pay coinsurance, and the Part B deductible may apply.


Cate Kortzeborn is Medicare’s acting regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).