After a 20-year absence, malaria has been found in the United States. Three new cases of the potentially deadly disease have been reported in Florida and Texas, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an alert.
The CDC is warning that more cases may be on the horizon, as mosquitoes are capable of carrying the parasite from person to person. The agency is urging people to take precautions against mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
While it's unclear what caused this sudden resurgence of malaria, some believe it could be linked to Bill Gates' funding of genetically modified mosquitoes. In 2010, Gates funded a project to release genetically modified male mosquitoes into the wild with the goal of reducing mosquito populations that carry diseases like malaria.
The project was met with criticism from those who feared it could have unintended consequences on local ecosystems. While there is no definitive evidence linking Gates' project to this outbreak, some experts are calling for further investigation into its potential role in reintroducing malaria into the United States after two decades without any reported cases.
In 2021, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) approved a plan to release millions of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in the United States. The GM mosquitoes were developed by the biotechnology company Oxitec and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are genetically modified not to have viable female offspring, which reduces their population over time.
The GM mosquitoes were released in California and Florida in 2022, with more releases planned for 2023. In 2020, scientists also released CRISPR-modified mosquitoes carrying a powerful “gene drive” into high security facilities in Brazil and Burkina Faso as part of an effort to combat malaria.
Genetically modified mosquitoes have been controversial due to concerns about their potential environmental impacts and safety risks.
In any case, health officials are urging people to take steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites while they work towards containing this outbreak.