Following the outbreak of malaria in Florida and Texas, social media is flooded with conspiracy theories suggesting that it was due to the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in these states. However, experts have denied the claims.
Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is commonly transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. According to CDC, typical symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur in some patients. The appearance of symptoms typically takes place between 10 days to four weeks after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito.
What is Being Claimed?
NBC News reported that Sarasota, Fla., has so far reported eight cases of the infection.
Claiming that the cases are the first to be picked up in the U.S. in 20 years, the outlet stated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that last month that locally acquired infections, those not linked to travel outside the country, constitute a public health emergency.
"I just researched that Oxitec who released GM mosquitoes in Florida, did a similar test in Brazil between 2015 and 2016 in Brazil to release genetically modified mosquitoes and the malaria cases which were on decline until 2015 had a rebound from 2015 to 2020... what's the odds of that?" wrote a Twitter user.
Many even linked the outbreak to billionaire Bill Gates. "2021- 2023: Texas and Florida released GMO mosquitos 2023: Malaria is suddenly appearing in Texas and Florida. Nobody knows *how* Malaria magically appeared, but the fact checkers assure us, it absolutely is not the Bill Gates mosquitos," tweeted a user.
"I just find it odd that Bill Gates who largely funded these vaccines, is on record saying they will lower population. Then he locked his twitter comments and now he is making malaria vaccines just in time for the outbreak after his party in Florida and Texas," read another tweet.
Here is the Truth
Debunking the claims being made on the social media, Reuters Fact Check reported that the GM mosquitoes released in these states have not caused the recent cases of malaria.
In a communique to the outlet, Daniel Markowski, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association, stated that the modified mosquitoes released in those states in 2020 and 2021 were all male and , and only female mosquitos feed on blood, which is how they transmit the malaria parasite from person to person. "The genetically modified mosquitos released in Florida and Texas are Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus, neither of which can transmit malaria. The only genetically modified mosquitos being released are males, which feed only on plant juices and therefore cannot transmit malaria," claimed Markowski in the email.
The expert also claimed that the "type of mosquito that was modified and released to help control diseases such as dengue and Zika virus is not the species that transmits malaria," the outlet reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also stated that only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person.