No, recent U.S. malaria cases not linked to Bill Gates or mosquito release project

By: Anurag Baruah
July 6 2023

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No, recent U.S. malaria cases not linked to Bill Gates or mosquito release project


The Verdict False

Bill Gates does not support the mosquito project in question, and the modified mosquitoes released are not the type that can transmit malaria.

Claim ID e64adde3


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory on June 26, 2023, identifying five locally-acquired malaria cases in the United States. Four cases were found in Florida and one in Texas). The CDC further expressed concern about a potential rise in imported malaria cases owing to increased international travel in 2023. This was widely reported on and subsequently gained traction on social media, with many Facebook users claiming that the sudden emergence of malaria cases is connected with the “release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida and Texas” as part of a project supported by Bill Gates.

However, this is not true. Bill Gates does not support the particular mosquito project in the U.S., and the modified mosquitoes cannot transmit malaria. 

In Fact

Our research led us to news reports about the particular mosquito project. The project began in Florida on a pilot basis in April 2021 and was carried out by Oxitec, a biotechnology company.  

News reports confirmed that the project involved releasing male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. When contacted, Jamie Lester, a representative of Oxitec, confirmed to Logically Facts that their work in Florida is with the Aedes aegypti, a mosquito species that carries dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, and yellow fever but not malaria. “Oxitec only ever releases male mosquitoes in the target areas,” Lester said, adding, “Oxitec has also only worked in the Florida Keys and not in Texas or any other part of the U.S.” The CDC website clearly states that only female mosquitoes bite people and animals.

Lawrence E. Reeves, an entomologist from the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory of the University of Florida, told Logically Facts that the claim is “nonsensical” and “does not consider the nuance that different mosquito species transmit different mosquito-vectored pathogens.”

“The ONLY mosquitoes that transmit human malaria are species of the genus Anopheles. An Aedes mosquito cannot transmit human malaria, and an Anopheles mosquito cannot transmit dengue virus. Because Oxitec works with Aedes aegypti, their mosquito releases are irrelevant to the recent malaria cases,” Reeves said. 

While the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded projects to combat malaria and has indeed supported Oxitec, the foundation has not funded this project. “No US-based work by Oxitec is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Lester also confirmed. 

The media relations team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also told Logically Facts that the claim linking the foundation’s work on malaria to the cases reported in Florida and Texas is false. “The foundation does not fund any work involving mosquito release in the United States,” they said. 

The current outbreak is not a one-off incident. Eight malaria cases were reported in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 2003, reported The Independent. Further, the possibility of the climate crisis playing a role in the outbreaks of malaria in the U.S. is becoming more prevalent.

The Verdict

Bill Gates does not support the mosquito project in the U.S., and the modified mosquitoes in question are not the type that can transmit malaria. Influential figures like Gates are often falsely linked to spread health and disease-related mis/disinformation. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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