Gates spreads malaria message with mosquitoes

Microsoft's co-founder releases the insects at the elite TED Conference to draw attention to the plight of those affected by the disease.

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Bill Gates opened a jar of mosquitoes on stage at an elite tech conference Wednesday to draw attention to the plight of malaria victims.

Bill Gates releases mosquitoes at TED on Wednesday. James Duncan Davidson for TED

The Microsoft co-founder released the insects, which are notorious for spreading the deadly disease, during the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference in Long Beach, Calif.

"Not only poor people should experience this," Gates told the audience before assuring them that the insects were malaria-free.

The insect release, which was first reported on Twitter by Facebook's Dave Morin, was initially characterized in some reports as a swarm, but some in the audience reported seeing just a few.

TED curator Chris Anderson reportedly quipped that the video of the talk posted at TED.com will be headlined "Gates releases more bugs into the world."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced last year that it would provide $168.7 million to develop a vaccine for malaria.