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Tips to be Fit: Most germs won’t hurt us, but 1,400 can

THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE — Did you know there are over 65,000 known germs, but only about 1,400 cause disease? The four major types of germs are bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. They can infect our bodies and cause disease. There is a difference between infection and disease. We can be infected without being diseased.

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By Vince Faust

Did you know there are over 65,000 known germs, but only about 1,400 cause disease?

The four major types of germs are bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. They can infect our bodies and cause disease. There is a difference between infection and disease. We can be infected without being diseased.

An infection is the first step, which occurs when bacteria, viruses or other microbes that cause disease enter our body and begin to multiply. Disease is when the cells in our body are damaged as a result of the infection, and symptoms of an illness appear.

Most germs won’t hurt us. Our immune system protects us against infections. But germs may mutate and breach the immune system. Knowing how germs work will reduce your risk of infection.

Bacteria are one-celled organisms. They are visible only with a microscope. Not all bacteria are harmful. Some bacteria live in our body and are helpful, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which lives in our intestines and helps us digest food, destroys some disease-causing organisms and provides nutrients.

Disease-causing bacteria will produce toxins that can damage cells and make you ill. Some bacteria directly invade and damage cell tissues. Some infections caused by bacteria include strep throat, tuberculosis and urinary tract infections.

Viruses are much smaller than our cells. Viruses are organisms that contain only genetic material. To reproduce, viruses invade cells in our bodies and change how our cells work. Most host cells are eventually destroyed during this process, which can kill us.

Viruses are responsible for causing numerous diseases, including AIDS, the common cold, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, genital herpes, influenza, measles, chickenpox and shingles.

Antibiotics for bacteria have no effect on viruses.

There are many varieties of fungi. Fungi are organisms that are reproduced by spores. We eat a number of them, such as mushrooms. The mold that forms the blue or green veins in some types of cheese are also fungi. So is yeast, the ingredient that makes bread rise.

Some fungi can also cause illness. Fungi are also responsible for skin conditions such as athlete’s foot and ringworm.

Protozoans

A protozoan is a single-celled organism that acts like a tiny animal. Protozoans eat other microbes for food. A few types of protozoans are found in our intestinal tract and are harmless.

Protozoans spend part of their life cycle outside the host. Protozoans live in food, soil, water and insects. Some protozoans invade our bodies through food or water we consume.

Some cause diseases such as giardia, malaria and toxoplasmosis. The protozoan that causes malaria is transmitted by a mosquito.

Infectious diseases

An easy way to contract most infectious diseases is by coming in contact with a person, animal or object that has the infection. Three ways infectious diseases can be spread through direct contact are:

Person to person: This is the most common way for infectious diseases to spread is when a person infected with the bacterium or virus touches, kisses, coughs on or sneezes on someone who isn’t infected. The germs can also spread through the exchange of body fluids from sexual contact. People who pass germs may have no symptoms of their disease.

Animal to person: Getting bitten or scratched by an infected animal can make you sick. It can be fatal in extreme situations. Handling animal waste can make you sick. You can acquire a toxoplasmosis infection by scooping your cat’s litter.

Mother to unborn child: A pregnant woman can pass germs that cause infectious diseases to her unborn baby. The germs can pass through the placenta connecting mother and baby. Germs in the vagina can be transmitted to the baby during birth.

Bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa can enter our bodies through:

  • Skin contact or injuries.
  • Inhaling airborne germs.
  • Consuming contaminated food or water.
  • Tick or mosquito bites.
  • Sexual contact.

You should get medical care if you suspect that you have an infection and you have experienced any of the following:

  • An animal or human bite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A cough lasting longer than a week.
  • Periods of rapid heartbeat.
  • A rash, especially if accompanied by a fever.
  • Blurred vision or other difficulty seeing.
  • Persistent vomiting.
  • An unusual or severe headache.
  • Reducing risk of infection

The CDC recommends the following to help reduce your risk of becoming infected:

Wash your hands. This is especially important before and after preparing food or drinks, before eating or drinking, after using the toilet, and after removing soiled clothes or shoes. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands, as that’s a common way germs enter the body. Soap and water work well to kill germs. Wash for at least 20 seconds and rub your hands briskly. Disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers also work well. Gel sanitizers and hand wipes should be 70% alcohol-based.

Get vaccinated. Immunization can drastically reduce your chances of contracting many diseases. Make sure to keep up to date on your recommended vaccinations, as well as your children’s.

Stay home when ill. Don’t go to work if you are vomiting, have diarrhea or have a fever. Don’t send your child to school if he or she has these signs and symptoms, either.

Prepare food safely. Keep counters and other kitchen surfaces clean when preparing meals. Cook foods to the proper temperature using a food thermometer to check for doneness. For ground meats, that means at least 160 degrees F (71 C); for poultry, 165 F (74 C); and for most other meat, at least 145 F (63 C). In addition, promptly refrigerate leftovers. Don’t let cooked foods remain at room temperature for extended periods of time.

Practice safe sex. Always use condoms if you or your partner has a history of sexually transmitted infections or high-risk behavior.

Don’t share personal items. Use your own toothbrush, comb and razor. Avoid sharing drinking glasses or dining utensils.

Travel wisely. If you’re traveling out of the country, talk to your doctor about any special vaccinations.

If you work out in a gym, be careful. You are exposed to a lot of people. You are using equipment that was just used. Clean the padding before you use it. More than 50% of healthy persons have Staphylococcus aureus living in or on their nasal passages, throats, hair and skin.

Swimming can be dangerous, too. The average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal material to the water within the first 15 minutes of entering the pool. Showering with soap before swimming helps stop the spread of germs by removing fecal material from the body.

You should also make sure your gym has good air circulation. We can’t wash the air in a gym, but the exchange of air should be good.

Pets and other animals

Got a pet? Be careful. To reduce the risk of getting sick from germs your pets may carry, always wash your hands after:

• Touching or playing with your pet.

• Feeding your pet or handling pet food.

• Handling pet habitats or equipment (cages, tanks, toys, food and water dishes, etc.)

• Cleaning up after pets.

• Leaving areas where animals live (coops, barns, stalls, etc.), even if you did not touch an animal.

Going to the zoo this season? Try to make it safe:

• Don’t walk and eat. Your hands will touch a lot of contaminated objects.

• Don’t let your little one use a pacifier. They touch that pacifier with everything. They may even share it with an animal.

• Wipe off any seating or table you use in the zoo.

• Don’t feed the animals from your hand.

• If you have an open wound, cover it completely.

• Try not to come into contact with any animal waste. It’s teaming with germs.

This article originally appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune

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Activism

Virtual Town Halls Addressing Black Mental Health on June 16 and June 23

“The community can’t wait any longer. We’ve been waiting for officials to do something since 2014,” said Pamela Emerson, co-chair of OFH’s Black Mental Initiative. “Think how many more people will die in the next three years while we wait! This is literally a life and death situation!

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Pamela Emerson is a co-founder of the Oakland Frontline Healers’ Black Mental Initiative. Photo by Pamela Emerson.
Pamela Emerson is a co-founder of the Oakland Frontline Healers’ Black Mental Initiative. Photo by Pamela Emerson.

By Tanya Dennis

When facing a need for health care, mental health evaluation or a mental health crisis, people of Asian, American Indian or Latinx descent in Alameda County have access to culturally relevant help at the American Indian Health Center, Asian Health Services, or La Clinica de La Raza.

African Americans have no such similar resource.

To address that issue, Oakland Frontline Healers (OFH) and the Bay Area Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) are hosting two virtual Town Halls on Thursday, June 16 and Thursday June 23 at 6 p.m. regarding “the State of Emergency” declared by Black and Brown leaders after 132 homicides occurred in Oakland in 2021.

The Town Halls will provide an opportunity for county, city, state, and federal officials to convene with OFH and ABPsi and other community activists to hear their plan to establish two African American healing hubs, and an African American healing center.

The proposed hubs would be in donated office space within OFH existing businesses to offer weekly patient appointments and emergency visits. If the hubs — at True Vine Ministries in West Oakland and East Bay Collective in East Oakland — are funded they could be operational within 30 days.

For months, OFH and the Bay Area Chapter of ABPsi have worked to create an immediate and long-term plan to complement Alameda’s County Behavioral Health’s plan which is still three to four years from reality.

The hubs will require $9 million a year to operate, and the center $18 million. Construction costs of the center have yet to be determined, as it will require the purchase of land for a 30,000-square-foot facility and architectural plans to determine costs.

“The community can’t wait any longer. We’ve been waiting for officials to do something since 2014,” said Pamela Emerson, co-chair of OFH’s Black Mental Initiative. “Think how many more people will die in the next three years while we wait! This is literally a life and death situation!

“OFH is taking action now, and we need our public officials to assist us. We have the plan, the services, and the personnel, all we need is funding. More policing is not the answer. We must heal Oakland,” Emerson said.

Dr. Lawford Goddard, the project leader for the Bay Area Chapter of ABPsi’s explained that there were two ‘lanes’ to this African American Mental Health initiative.

“One lane is in response to the ‘state of emergency’ of mental health in the African American community,” Goddard said. “These healing hubs would provide immediate mental health services to African Americans in need of healing…… This effort is community-driven and seeks funding from the state, the federal government, foundations, corporations and private Black investors and businesspersons. “

The second lane of the initiative is the establishment of the African American Wellness Hub Complex which is based on the original proposal submitted to Alameda County Behavioral Health.”

After the planning phase it will require about three years of construction.

“If funded we could have our hubs operational in 30 days,” Emerson said. “The problem is, in Alameda County’s plan, no money has been allocated for services, just construction. We need services, and we are ready and able to provide those services, but we need funding.”

Emerson is hopeful that the Supervisors will understand how vital culturally congruent mental health services are if there is any hope of ending violence in Oakland.

“What we hope to achieve with the Town Halls is everyone walks away acknowledging that violence in our community is a mental health issue, that lack of resources and opportunity exacerbates the problem, and most important, our officials walk away knowing they have people with the skills, knowledge, and expertise to help them produce solutions,” Emerson said.

“We want to be their partners, but we can’t partner until we know each other’s intent, abilities, and capacity. Attending our Town Hall on the 16th or 23rd of June will be a great way to start the process.”

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Advice

Sage Institute Welcomes Dr. Deidra Somerville as New Executive Director

“On behalf of the Sage Institute board of directors, we welcome Dr. Deidra Somerville as our incoming executive director,” said Kat Conour, Sage Institute for Psychedelic Therapy board chair. “Given Dr. Somerville’s expertise and clear dedication to fostering health and well-being for diverse and underserved communities, we trust that our mission and all those we serve will be in the right hands. We are confident she is the ideal person to grow Sage Institute into what we always envisioned it could be, and more.” 

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Dr. Deidra Somerville is the new Executive Director for Sage Institute, headquartered in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Sage Institute
Dr. Deidra Somerville is the new Executive Director for Sage Institute, headquartered in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Sage Institute

By Bobbie Carlton

Sage Institute for Psychedelic Therapy, a 501(c)3 non-profit which provides high-quality training and accessible psychedelic therapy to underserved communities, announced on Monday the arrival of its new executive director, Dr. Deidra Somerville.

Somerville has a background in social work and many years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, community development, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) facilitation. She believes in a human-first model of working within organizations, prioritizing community and relationship building. Originally from San Francisco, Somerville returned to the Bay Area from Illinois.

“On behalf of the Sage Institute board of directors, we welcome Dr. Deidra Somerville as our incoming executive director,” said Kat Conour, Sage Institute for Psychedelic Therapy board chair. “Given Dr. Somerville’s expertise and clear dedication to fostering health and well-being for diverse and underserved communities, we trust that our mission and all those we serve will be in the right hands. We are confident she is the ideal person to grow Sage Institute into what we always envisioned it could be, and more.”

“I’m honored and excited to join Sage Institute,” said Somerville. “This is a time of great change and opportunity for our beloved community of practitioners, partners, volunteers, donors and the individuals, families, and communities we serve.

“I believe Sage Institute to be well positioned to effectively lead and serve during this time of momentous growth,” Somerville said. “We are training practitioners, providing much needed access to psychedelic therapy to underserved communities, and building pathways to contribute to the body of research on the risks and benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy with diverse client populations. I am eager to bring my experiences as an advocate, organizer, fundraiser, researcher, administrator and healer to lead and serve the Sage Institute community.”

Sage Institute is the only organization that offers low-fee sliding-scale ketamine-assisted therapy alongside paid training for intern therapists gaining hours towards licensure as social workers, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists. Committed to training the next generation of diverse clinicians and leaders in the field, Sage Institute also offers a scholarship program to assist clinicians from diverse backgrounds to overcome financial and structural barriers to their participation.

Somerville’s top priorities for the next three months are to:

  • Further strengthen Sage Institute’s capacity to serve an ever-growing client base
  • Diversify the organization’s revenue streams with thriving partnerships
  • Develop a pipeline to licensure for graduates of the training program

About Dr. Deidra Somerville, PhD, MSW

An experienced executive, educator and administrator with a demonstrated history of advocacy for social justice, Somerville’s career has been devoted to the nonprofit and higher education industries. She was most recently responsible for sponsored programs, research services and human research protections at Roosevelt University and an adjunct member of the Psychology department at DePaul University.

In addition, she maintained a consulting practice providing support for grant administration, organizational development and diversity, equity and inclusion training. Somerville received her PhD in community psychology from National Louis University, her Master of Social Work from Boston University and her undergraduate degrees from University of California, Santa Cruz.

Bobbie Carlton is the founder of Carlton PR and Marketing. 

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Activism

OCCUR & the San Francisco Foundation FAITHS Program Present: A Model Built on Faith 2022 Leadership Series

Presenter, Karl Mill, Esq., is founder of Mill Law Center, a firm providing legal support to the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors. A long-time champion of underserved communities, Mill is dedicated to promoting justice under the law. “Our firm is in the nonprofit sector because we want to devote our lives to activities that relieve suffering and promote justice” says Mill.

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Workshop 3: Building Your Legal Guardrails

May 26, 2022

As organizations and communities emerge from years of changes and transformations due to the Covid pandemic, the broader landscapes in which they function have also changed. What current and possible new legal guardrails must be in place to move forward into the new normal? OCCUR and the San Francisco Foundation FAITHS program present Building Your Legal Guardrails. This capacity training will provide nonprofit and faith-based leaders with an overview of legal topics key to understanding and exploring the rapidly changing legal landscape.

Presenter, Karl Mill, Esq., is founder of Mill Law Center, a firm providing legal support to the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors. A long-time champion of underserved communities, Mill is dedicated to promoting justice under the law. “Our firm is in the nonprofit sector because we want to devote our lives to activities that relieve suffering and promote justice” says Mill. “We focus on priority areas such as racial justice, combatting economic and educational inequality, supporting immigrants’ rights, and dismantling mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. Understanding key elements of the law is critical to advancing the work of all those who work in the nonprofit arena.”

Please join us for this informative workshop!

Date/Time:
May 26, 2022, 9 a.m.-11a.m.
Location: Zoom
How to Attend: Please RSVP on our website, amodelbuiltonfaith.org
Questions: Email info@occurnow.org, or call (510) 839-2440

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