Hollywood heartthrob and rights activist George Clooney contracted malaria during his recent visit to Sudan for voting there and had a "bad 10 days," he said in comments to be aired Friday.
The A-list star jokingly agreed that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC), may be to blame for the mosquito bite that infected him.
"I guess the mosquito in Juba looked at me and thought I was the bar," he quipped, according to an advance copy of excerpts of an interview with new CNN talk show host Piers Morgan.
Morgan, who took over from Larry King at the cable news channel this week, asked whether Clooney thought Beshir had "detached a detail of sickly, vengeful mosquitoes to target you whenever you arrive?"
"Yeah," Clooney responded, pursuing the joke. "I think so."
Malaria can cause fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea, as well as jaundice, turning the skin and whites of the eyes yellow. Clooney said he had suffered from it twice, but did not elaborate on what symptoms he had.
A spokesman for Clooney told AFP the star was now well again. "George is completely over the malaria he contracted while in the Sudan during the first week in January. This was his second bout with it."
And he quoted Clooney as saying: "This illustrates how with proper medication, the most lethal condition in Africa, can be reduced to a bad 10 days instead of a death sentence."
Morgan, a media-savvy former British journalist turned talent show host and celebrity expert, later tweeted: "Clooney malaria update: now have 24,563 offers to nurse him.
"But his rep says medication's worked and he's OK. Sorry, ladies," Morgan added on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Clooney traveled to southern Sudan in early January in a show of support for the impoverished region ahead of a referendum on separating the mainly Christian, African south from the mainly Arab, Muslim north.
The actor was working on a Google-powered mapping project aimed at preventing abuses in Sudan, and in theory to gather evidence that could be used if Beshir is ever brought before the Hague-based ICC.
"We are hoping it is one of many tools to continue to apply pressure, at the very least, to gather evidence that could be used at The Hague later if there are infringements or rules broken," he told Morgan.