Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Outreach Home


The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) supports outreach activities that leverage the abundant academic and research resources and our commitment to education, research, and service in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders. The goal of the outreach program is to connect research to practice and promote and protect the health, safety, and well-being of workers and their communities.

Our outreach program is designed to reach vulnerable and at-risk populations through innovative activities that engage workers and communities to achieve well-being. A unique focus of our outreach program is on the health, safety, and well-being of the contingent workforce.

Since 1977, the SWCOEH has designed and delivered outreach initiatives on current and emerging occupational and environmental health issues to serve the needs of workers and their communities.


The mission of the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) Outreach Program is to meet the needs of occupational and environmental safety and health professionals, organizations, employers, and workers within the Public Health Region 6 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas) and beyond. Our outreach to worker populations focuses on the unique needs and challenges of the at-risks contingent workforce.

What we offer

Leveraging the extensive academic and research resources of the SWCOEH, the Outreach Program develops, implements, and evaluates a diverse range of activities tailored to the unique worker populations and communities in our region. In collaboration with partners and regional stakeholders, we translate knowledge to know-how to promote and protect the health, safety, and well-being of workers and their communities.

Tell us your outreach needs

Interested in specialized outreach activities to respond to current or emerging needs? Would you like to partner with SWCOEH to design an outreach initiative for community?

Email: [email protected] to let us know how we can be of service.

For More Information

Lacy Davis, MA
Director, Outreach Program
Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
UTHealth Houston School of Public Health
1200 Pressler, RAS West 1038
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-500-9447
Email: [email protected]

Silvia P. Santiago, MAHS
Coordinator, Outreach Program
Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
UTHealth Houston School of Public Health
1200 Pressler, RAS West 1014
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-500-9444
Email: [email protected]

Infectious Diseases

What are infectious diseases?

Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that can spread from person-to-person directly or indirectly in other ways. Humans can also become infected after exposure to an infected animal.

What is Influenza?

Influenza (or the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. There are two main types of flu: Type A and Type B.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria. These bacteria invade the body and produce a poison that causes painful muscle contractions.

What is Tuberculosis (TB)?

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick or has symptoms. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist latent TB infection (LTBI) and active TB disease. If not treated properly, active TB disease can be fatal.

What is Hepatitis A (HAV)?

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, and when this happens, the liver's function can be affected.

What is Hepatitis B (HBV)?

Hepatitis B (HBV) is another virus that can cause inflammation of the liver.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox. The virus is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder, and Monkeypox is rarely fatal.

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19?

COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, the flu, or pneumonia. COVID-19 may attack more than your lungs and respiratory system.

Myths & Facts: COVID-19 Vaccines

  • MYTH: The ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.
    • FACT: Nearly all the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are also ingredients in many foods – fats, sugars, and salts.
  • MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines cause variants.
    • FACT: No. COVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants. COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent new variants from emerging.
  • MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips.
    • FACT: No. Not possible.
  • MYTH: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine can make you magnetic.
    • FACT: No. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at your injection site. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.
  • MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines can alter my DNA.
    • FACT: No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
  • MYTH: A COVID-19 vaccine will make me sick with coronavirus.
    • FACT: No, the vaccine cannot make you sick. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain a live virus that causes COVID-19.
  • MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines will affect my fertility.
    • FACT: Currently, no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men.

The good news is that prevention of infectious diseases is easy! Practice the following preventative tips:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water
  • Cover your cough and sneezer with a tissue and throw it away after
  • Reduce your contact with sick individuals (those coughing or sneezing)
  • Wear your mask (KN95 or N95) when sick or around sick individuals
  • Avoid sharing personal items like toothbrushes or glucometers
  • Maintain a clean home and workplace and disinfect frequently
  • Stay home when you feel sick or test positive

Remember getting vaccinated is the BEST way to prevent infectious diseases!

USDA Relief Program

Most recently, our team leveraged funds from the USDA Farm and Food Worker Relief Program, to distribute one-time $600 COVID-19 relief payment for wages and time lost during the pandemic for agricultural workers (March 30, 2023 – September 30, 2024). Our team has been assigned payments for 5,000 agricultural workers across the RGV, TP, Eastern NM, Western Kansas, and Southern Idaho. To date, our team has enrolled >4,500 agricultural workers (distributing over $2.7 million in relief payments). In addition, our communications team is filming a short documentary highlighting the lives and struggles of agricultural workers and their families and the impacts of community outreach like the USDA relief program. See Ramon Leos Sierra, dairy farm worker in Central Texas, describe his experience with our team, the USDA relief program, and the greatest needs among agricultural workers in the US.

Fire Department

The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) at UTHealth Houston has partnered with the Houston Fire Department for a neurotoxicant study. Led by primary investigator Jooyeon Hwang, PhD, MS and Spencer Chichester, BS and Youngjin Kim, BS, NIOSH trainees in Industrial Hygiene at the SWCOEH. This video highlights the first day of fire simulation in the neurotoxicant study.

Docside Clinic

Shannon Guillot-Wright, PhD, an associate professor with the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences (EHGES) and affiliated faculty with the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) and the Center for Health Equity at UTHealth School of Public Health, was awarded nearly $1 million from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

The 2-year study of injury prevention among fishermen was centered around the Docside Clinic in Galveston, Texas. The Docside Clinic was born out of community-based work with fishermen in Southeast Texas. Guillot-Wright and her team, including Lacy Davis, the Senior Program Manager, were interested in learning about preventing slips, trips, and falls – the leading injury for fishermen. It started as a one-time event to connect fishermen to primary care but has grown to monthly visits and interactions with nearly 300 fishermen.