Doctors, vet talk air quality concerns due to Matts Creek wildfire

VIRGINIA – School leaders made some changes to their workday on Monday to protect kids from the Matts Creek wildfire smoke.

Botetourt County Public Schools dismissed two hours early Monday due to bad air quality, and many schools around the region closed or did the same.

The haze made it hard for some people to breathe.

Dr. Russell Delaney, a pediatrician at LewisGale, said parents should keep an eye on their kids during this time.

“We encourage kids to be outside, and active of course, but when air quality is poor, that’s something for parents to consider and make an individual decision,” Dr. Delaney said.

Doctors said children with asthma or other breathing conditions, and premature infants are at higher risk of being affected. People who are already sick are, too.

[Air quality health alert issued for several localities in Central, Southwest Virginia]

“If you’re already under the weather a little bit with some of the cough, congestion that we’re certainly seeing a lot of, you’re going to be at a little higher risk for reacting to some of the poor air quality,” Interim Chair of Pediatrics at Carilion’s Clinic Dr. Christopher Pierce said.

It’s not just people who are impacted by poor air; household pets can be at risk too. You’ll want to keep an eye on your furry friends and bring them inside if they have a breathing condition or seem to be struggling.

“Many of the smushy-faced animals are just automatically going to have a harder time breathing because they just have less airway to do it with,” Clinical Associate Professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Vet Medicine Mike Nappier said.

Whether you have four legs, or two, doctors said it wouldn’t hurt to stick mostly indoors if you notice any symptoms.

“If they’ve been outside, and they’re coughing that would be the most common thing you would see from this,” Dr. Delaney said. “Someone with an underlying problem like asthma might start having labored breathing, breathing more rapidly.”

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.