Many of you are hoping to get away this winter, to take a break from the snow, the cold and the gray skies Michigan. But the rise of the Zika virus may make you a little apprehensive. The Zika virus… 

can cause not only a temporary flu-like illness, but tragic birth defects in pregnant women. Even if you are not likely to get pregnant, if you are bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquito you might carry the disease to Michigan, where our own home-grown mosquitoes could catch the virus from you.The Center for Disease Control has identified the countries where the active Zika transmission has been found. The list includes Mexico, all of Central America, much of South America and most of the Eastern Caribbean. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html It looks like the only safe places outside of the U. S. are Cuba, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.If you already have plans to visit any of the countries identified by the CDC, please take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The CDC recommends bug repellants that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products. (The CDC web site even contains instructions on how to apply mosquito repellants, for those of you who are a little unsure about how to use bug spray.)