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Gates looses mosquitoes on tech conference bloodsuckers

Malaria message in a jar

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Bill Gates opened a jar of mosquitoes on stage at a conference for elite technology bloodsuckers on Wednesday to make a point about the spread of malaria.

"Malaria is spread by mosquitoes," Gates said before unleashing the insects at the Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference in Long Beach, California. "I brought some. Here, I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected."

Some breathless accounts of the incident described the philanthropist releasing a "swarm" of mosquitoes, although TED organizers claim it was only a few.

Gates waited a few minutes before assuring the audience none of the mosquitoes carried malaria. But then, he's also assured the world that SPAM would be eradicated by January 2006.

The former Microsoft head has been pushing to reduce malaria deaths through his nonprofit organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In September, Gates said the Foundation would provide $168.7m to help develop a vaccine for malaria.

Despite the claims of safety, we'd say TED attendees should still probably be on the lookout for malaria symptoms, which include fever, joint pain, vomiting, shivering, and convulsions. Hmm, maybe Gates has been working on a malaria inoculation earlier than we suspected...

TED curator Chris Anderson joked that when the video is posted on the TED website, it would be headlined "Gates releases more bugs into the world." ®

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