The Aedes species mosquito — A. aegypti and A. albopictus, pictured — is known to transmit Zika virus.Photo: James Gathany/CDC

As spring break approaches and with the possibility that college students may travel to Zika-virus affected areas, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken has asked college officials in Suffolk County to notify students, both men and women, that they may be at risk of being infected and infecting others with the Zika virus.

Areas where local Zika transmission has been documented, according to the Centers for Disease Control, include the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica), Mexico, all of Central America (including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras) and many areas of South America.

Tomarken cautions that Zika virus may be transmitted not only by infected Aedes species mosquitoes but also by a male to his sex partners.

The commissioner urges all people traveling to Zika-affected areas to use condoms while traveling to those areas and after returning from those areas. Travelers should also take precautions to avoid mosquito bites while in Zika-affected areas.

“At this time, we don’t know how long Zika is present in semen in men who have traveled and contracted Zika, but it appears to be longer than in blood and urine,” Tomarken said in a statement issued by the health department. “Therefore an abundance of caution should be taken by both men and women of child-bearing age to avoid being infected with Zika virus and spreading the infection to others.”

Accumulating evidence links maternal Zika virus infection with congenital microcephaly, miscarriages, and other adverse fetal outcomes. In addition, there are reports of a possible association with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an illness of the nervous system that can cause muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

The travel advisory to students provides information on how to prevent mosquito bites and how to avoid spreading the virus to sexual partners. The advisory is available on the Suffolk County website.

The travel advisory to students provides information on how to prevent mosquito bites and how to avoid spreading the virus to sexual partners. The advisory is available on the Suffolk County website.

For updated travel information from the CDC, click here.

For more information about Zika virus, visit the CDC’s website.

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