Heat and Zika concerns on the 4th of July as some take part in outdoor activities

Heat and Zika concerns on the 4th of July as some take part in outdoor activities

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It was a scorcher, but many took their Fourth of July celebrations outdoors, including to parks and picnic areas.

Coping with the heat wasn't the only thing some pondered. There was also concern about mosquitoes and the Zika virus some carry.

"I've been going higher than my mom and you," said Michael Joseph III as he had fun on a City Park swing set.

Though little, he was not short on words when describing how the heat made him feel as he enjoyed being pushed higher and higher on the swing.

"Yeah, it's very hot, and sweat is coming from my forehead to my face," he said as his mother stood by.

"We need to get out and enjoy the day, so we're just drinking a lot of water and staying in the shade at some point, taking breaks that's all," said Evelyn Bryant, the boy's mother.

The soaring temperatures had company, as in humidity.

"We're visiting here from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we're used to a three percent humidity, so we're noticing the difference, and it's sticky," said Susan Johnson, who has family in New Orleans and brought her small grandchildren to the park.

"It's called heat, heat, heat," said Dr. Brobson Lutz.

Lutz, who is a former city health department director, wore a lightweight hat and recommends others outdoor do the same, as well as wear light fabrics, like cotton and linen.

"I can start with myself.  A hat is hard to beat.  If you look at pictures in the 30s and 40s before New Orleans was well air-conditioned and people walking down Canal Street everybody, men and women had hats on," said Dr. Lutz.

He said staying hydrated is a must.

"You need a lot of fluids in this kind of weather. You don't want your urine to get dark, you want pale urine," said Lutz.

Perspiration is the body's own cooling system, but in "humidity central," not so much.

"The blood gets rid of excess fluid through perspiration, low humidity, that evaporates and your core temperature can actually go down. But with our high humidity, we don't have that little gimmick going on so much down here," Lutz said.

The heat was not the only thing some spending time outdoors had on their minds. Mosquitoes and the Zika virus were factored into some families' planning.

"We sprayed ourselves before we got out here with sun spray and mosquito spray. Oh yeah, the mosquitoes are a big problem, but you just have to protect yourself," said Bryant.

Hot, humid weather is good for mosquito breeding.

At the start of spring, city leaders called the Zika virus a health threat, and city government said it was getting ready at that time just n case there are Zika cases here.

"We've got the mosquitoes all right, we've got the conditions, but I don't think the situation in  New Orleans is conducive to that," said Lutz.

He said the extreme heat here drives many indoors sooner than later.

"We're fairly well air-conditioned, and I think the air-conditioning will save us," said Lutz.

He called the city's mosquito abatement one of the best in the world.

"I don't think we're going to see any indigenous cases from Zika. W we will see Zika from people coming from Central and South America, or other countries perhaps, but I think it's very unlikely there will be a Zika outbreak in New Orleans," Lutz said.

He added that he began fogging an outdoor area at his residence Sunday in anticipation of a Fourth of July gathering.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.