Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Is Raw Milk Safe to Drink?

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization means the milk is heated for a short time to a high temperature. Pasteurization is intended to kill potentially pathogenic bacteria (including Brucella, diphtheria, E. coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus, and typhoid) that can be found in milk. This also extends the shelf life of milk. Some people prefer to drink raw milk for its purported health benefits. Several types of cheese (e.g., asiago, camembert, gruyere, Parmigiano-Reggiano, roquefort) are made from raw milk. Unpasteurized milk “goes bad” more quickly than pasteurized milk. It has a shelf life of only 3-5 days. Belgian food safety experts conclude: “Raw milk poses a realistic health threat due to a possible contamination with human pathogens. It is therefore strongly recommended that milk should be heated before consumption.” What about bird flu in cow milk? There are several types of bird flu caused by the H5N1 virus. Bird flu, also known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, is common in wild birds worldwide. It is transmitted to domestic poultry and other animals, including dairy cattle. These animal viruses, although potentially dangerous to livestock, do not normally infect humans. Live H5N1 viruses in raw milk may cause digestive upset in those who drink it, but as of now, no human deaths from the virus have been reported. As of the beginning of June 2024, only 4 human cases of H5N1 have been reported in the US, 3 in persons who worked with dairy cattle and 1 person who worked with poultry. All individuals had only mild symptoms. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are monitoring the presence of H5N1 virus in milk. They indicate that pasteurization of commercially available milk and destruction of milk from cows sick with the virus are protecting the milk supply. You can read regularly updated reports here:
To be on the safe side, drink pasteurized, not raw, milk.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

June is Dairy Month – What is in milk?

3 Jars of Milk of Various Sizes

Cow milk is made up of 87% water. The other 13% is proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Overall, milk contains 58 different nutrients your body needs.  Calcium may be the best-known mineral found in milk and other dairy products. Calcium forms the structure of strong bones and teeth. An 8-ounce glass of milk or cup of yogurt provides 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium. This is the same amount of calcium as in 13 small cans of tuna, 11 eggs, 7 cups of uncooked rice, 6 oranges, or 5 ounces of salmon with bones. Other dairy products made from milk also contain significant amounts of calcium. An ounce of cheese or a cup of ice cream contains 200 mg of calcium. Cottage cheese contains 100 mg of calcium per ¾ cup serving. Unfortunately, too many people don’t get enough calcium in their diet. Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density that makes your skeleton weak and brittle, can results from calcium deficiency. So can tooth decay! Calcium deficiency can also lead to feelings of fatigue or muscle aches. So, eat more dairy products. Drink up! Milk is known as “nature’s perfect food.”

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Healthinfo Island poster sets for June

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this posting. In Second Life, click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images.  If you click each poster, you will get a private message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island
Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

June is Men's Health Month. All the poster sets this month deal with various aspects of men's health. You might want to save the quiz for last. The answers are found on posters in the other 7 sets this month. A lot of the information is useful for women as well!

Information on climate change anxiety is poster set 8.

Gay Men, Bisexual Men, and Transgendered Individuals Have Distinct Health Issues - with Pride Flag

5. Gay/Bi/Trans Men Have Distinct Health Issues

Who's Got Freckles? - 4 Faces with Freckles

7. Men: What screenings do you need?  (Photo Caption: Everyone needs regular health screenings.  Men are less likely to be screened than women and are less likely to have a regular physician.  Different tests are done at different ages.  Family history and lifestyle also play a role in determining what to screen for and when.  Use this display as a guide to determine what questions to ask your doctor.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tip -What is “homebound”?

If you are homebound, do you never, ever leave your house? No, that’s not it.

Medicare defines homebound as not being able to leave one’s home without help “because of an illness or injury,” if leaving the home is not recommended “because of your condition” or because leaving home is “a major effort.”

You don’t need to be bedridden or use a wheelchair to be homebound. You can leave home for short infrequent trips, such as to a doctor appointment. You may be temporarily homebound if, for example, you were in a car accident and broke both legs. Eventually you will recover, but at this point you are homebound.

But being unable to drive and not having transportation is NOT considered homebound, however.

If you do not have Medicare coverage, check your insurance policy for its definition of “homebound.” Insurance companies make their own rules about this health status.


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Exercise Tip- A Way to Keep Motivated

It can be difficult to stay motivated to exercise daily. Instead of considering your exercise session as a “should do,” think of it as an important self-care commitment. Regular exercise helps you stay healthy and balanced.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Older Adult Peer Support: Our Time Has Come

Government Service Center in Boston

May 17th at 2:30 pm by Robert Walker, MS, COAPS from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

Older adults and their caregivers are sometimes left out of peer support.  Peer support allows people with similar life experiences to help each other learn strategies for self-empowerment and build self-fulfilling lives. Peer support groups exist for many types of disabilities, but are less likely to serve older adults and their caregivers. 

Many think that depression, loneliness, loss of hope, and memory loss are all part of aging with a physical or mental disability. Robert Walker will describe a short-term, evidence-based model of peer support for older adults, which holds promise as a way to assist older adults in leading healthier, values-driven lives. This model has been piloted with older adults and caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer's Disease.

Robert Walker works with the Massachusetts (US) Department of Mental Health in the Office of Recovery and Empowerment. His work involves both researching peer interventions and training peer specialists. He is interested in the behavioral health issues experienced by older adults.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Intergenerational programs – bringing youth and elders together to enhance social connectedness

La Trobe University Armorial

On May 17th at 1:00 pm by Jessica Simionato from La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia)

Both adolescents and older adults are dealing with identity issues.  They find themselves at a similar psychological cross roads – one trying to find their identify, the other trying to maintain the identity they have created for themselves.  Jessica Simionato is researching the components which make intergenerational programs bringing together teens and older adults successful and impactful.  

With community and connection ever changing, we looked at the components that may make for successful and impactful intergenerational programs involving adolescents and older adults. We will present review level evidence and the practical application of it, including possibilities for the virtual world.

Jessica Simionato has a clinical background in Speech Pathology. She did her research at La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia. She is interested in how community social outcomes can build intergenerational connections sustainably, including possibilities for the virtual world.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Impact of Parasocial Relationships with AI on Mental Health

Presenter With Audience

On May 17th at Noon by Dr. Valerie Hill, MLIS, PhD and Rose Hill, MLIS, CPC, SUDP-T from Community Virtual Library and Crisis Connections

Have you used AI? Do you feel a special relationship with the AI? Many people do feel some relationship with the AI who is working with them. Does this affect their mental health? At noon PDT on Friday, May 17, Dr. Valerie Hill and Rose Hill will talk about these parasocial relationships in terms of attachment theory in mental health. They will explore both positive and negative impacts of relationships with AI on human mental health. Are there ways AI can replace or enhance social relationships for youngsters and the elderly?

This presentation examines the growing phenomenon of relationships formed with AI agents and their potential impact on mental health. We'll address the importance of relationship, parasocial interaction, and attachment theory in mental health and consider how these key concepts apply in human-AI interaction. Using popular relational AI applications, we explore both positive and negative examples of their impact on mental wellbeing. We'll conclude with thought-provoking questions about the future of AI relationships and their potential to replace some forms of human connection. 

Dr. Valerie Hill is the director of the Community Virtual Library in the metaverse and co-coordinator of the Virtual Worlds Education Consortium. She researches the intersection of metaliteracy and libraries with virtual worlds and digital culture in our metamodern era. Rose Hill is a Certified Peer Counselor with a focus in trauma and crisis counseling. She is currently an OUD specialist at Crisis Connections in Seattle, WA (US).

Saturday, May 4, 2024

The 13th Annual Mental Health Symposium Is Coming Up May 17th, 2024

Theme:  “Our Youth, Our Elders”

Date:  Friday May 17, 2024

Location:  Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island In Second Life



The 13th annual Mental Health Symposium will take place in Virtual Ability’s Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability Island in Second Life on Friday, May 17, 2024. There is no charge to attend. The theme of this year’s Conference is “Our Youth, Our Elders.” Children and the elderly face unique mental health challenges that are not well understood and often not adequately addressed. Our eight presenters will share information from a variety of perspectives related to the conference theme.

The Symposium will take place in the virtual world of Second Life, at the Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability island. (You can create a free Second Life account through Virtual Ability’s Sign-Up Portal, entering at the beginning of our New Resident Orientation Course. You can then post the auditorium’s SLURL into Nearby Chat, click the green underlined link, and teleport to the auditorium.) Virtual Ability hosts this annual Symposium to share information about mental health and mental disabilities with the general population. Within our cross-disability community we have members who deal with a variety of mental health issues.

Not only is this an opportunity for our community members to learn more about topics related to mental health from experts they probably would not have a chance to meet otherwise, it allows the general public to attend a professional conference at no cost. 

We encourage you to attend live in Second Life, so you can interact with our presenters. However, if you would prefer, you can watch the sessions on Virtual Ability’s YouTube channel. The sessions will be archived in both text and video format on Virtual Ability’s website shortly after the conference. All  conference times are in Pacific Daylight time (also known as SLT). Please check the conference webpage for updates as we get closer to May 17. We hope to see you at the conference!

Friday, May 3, 2024

Displays and Exhibits for Healthinfo Island for May 2024

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this posting. When you are in Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island, click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images.  If you click each poster, you will get a private message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island
Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. All the poster sets this month deal with mental health and support the Mental Health Symposium, Friday, May 17.

Information on climate change and mental health (poster sets 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8).

Mental Health and Climate Change

Mental Health and Climate Change

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Interesting data: Leading causes of death for age groups

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about the recorded causes of death. This data has been analyzed by the nonprofit USAFacts in their September 2023 publication, the "America in Facts 2023" report. They calculated the leading causes of death for each state and the District of Columbia in the 2020-2021 year. Here are the results:

Ages 1 to 17*

  • Transport accidents: 32 states
  • Suicide: 6 states
  • Homicide: 5 states and the District of Columbia
  • Cancer: 4 states
  • Other: 3 state

*Note: Transport accidents and suicide tied in Idaho for this age group, and transport accidents and cancer tied in Connecticut.


Ages 18 to 44

  • Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids: 28 states and the District of Columbia
  • Suicide: 14 states
  • Homicide: 3 states
  • Major cardiovascular disease: 4 states
  • Other: 2 states


Ages 45 to 64

  • Major cardiovascular disease: 29 states and the District of Columbia
  • Cancer: 21 states
  • Other: 1 state


Ages 65 and older

  • Major cardiovascular disease: 50 states and the District of Columbia

While this data doesn’t predict how any particular individual will die, nor at what age death will occur, it can remind us to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that can address the most common causes in our age group.

For information on preventing transport accidents in children:

Child Passenger Safety: Get the Facts

Child Safety

For information on fentanyl and other synthetic opioids:

Years of Life Lost to Unintentional Drug Overdose Rapidly Rising in the Adolescent Population, 2016–2020

DEA Warns of Brightly-Colored Fentanyl Used to Target Young Americans

Dramatic increases in opioid overdose deaths due to fentanyl among young people in Washington State (pdf)

For information about cardiovascular disease:

Heart Disease and Stroke

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs)

Know Your Risk for Heart Disease