James Duncan Davidson  /  TED
While giving a presentation on malaria, Bill Gates opens a jar of mosquitoes at TED2009, a technology conference.
msnbc.com
updated 2/4/2009 8:53:18 PM ET 2009-02-05T01:53:18

"Bill Gates just released mosquitos into the audience at TED and said, 'Not only poor people should experience this.'"

That was the post by Facebook's Senior Platform Manager Dave Morin on social networking site Twitter.

The event took place at the TED2009 (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference on Wednesday in Long Beach, Calif., where the Microsoft chairman was delivering a presentation about malaria education and eradication. Malaria is transmitted from person to person via mosquito bites.

The mosquito incident was confirmed by the media office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which also noted that the insects released were not carrying malaria.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

All about malariaThe philanthropist has been pushing to reduce malaria deaths through the nonprofit. In September, Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would provide $168.7 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to help develop a vaccine for the deadly disease.

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites in the red blood cells. Each year, 350 million to 500 million are infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than one million cases result in death. Symptoms include high fever, nausea, chills, sweating and weakness.

The disease is still prevalent on continents such as Africa and Asia, which have tropical or subtropical climates. Malaria has been eradicated in most countries with temperate climates. There is currently no effective vaccine against malaria.

More on malaria | infectious diseases

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