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Walmart Recalls Room Spray for Rare Bacteria That Sickened 4, Killing 2

HealthDay News
by Robert Preidt and Robin Foster
Updated: Oct 25th 2021

new article illustration

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Walmart has recalled an aromatic room spray sold nationwide after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the presence of a "rare and dangerous" bacteria in the spray that's linked to four illnesses, including two deaths.

The retailer sold about 3,900 bottles of Better Homes and Gardens' Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones in six different scents, according to a recall notice posted Friday. The aromatherapy spray was made in India.

The four cases of melioidosis illness occurred in Georgia, Kansas, Texas and Minnesota, the CDC said. Melioidosis is typically found in parts of Asia and causes a variety of symptoms that can be confused with other common illnesses, such as flu or a cold. Melioidosis is a rare but serious disease in the United States, with about 12 cases reported annually.

In its investigation, the CDC found Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria in "Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones," on Oct. 6 in the home of a Georgia resident who became ill with melioidosis in late July.

Genetic testing of the bacteria that sickened the four patients is similar to that of strains usually found in South Asia.

The contaminated spray was sold at about 55 Walmart stores and on Walmart's website between February and Oct. 21, 2021. Walmart's recall includes the lavender and chamomile room spray and five other scents in the same product line.

Consumers with the contaminated aromatherapy spray should stop using it immediately. Do not open the bottle. Double bag it in clean, clear zip-lock bags and place it in a small cardboard box. Return the bagged and boxed product to a Walmart store, the CDC said in a statement.

"Our hearts go out to the families that have been impacted by this situation," Dr. Inger Damon, director of CDC's Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said in the CDC statement. "We at CDC have been very concerned to see these serious related illness spread across time and geography... We hope this work can help protect other people who may have used this spray."

Use normal laundry detergent to wash sheets or linens that the product may have been sprayed on and dry completely in a hot dryer. Use bleach if desired, the CDC added.

Use undiluted Pine-Sol or a similar disinfectant to wipe down counters and surfaces that might have the aromatherapy spray on them.

Limit how much you handle the spray bottle and wash your hands thoroughly after touching the bottle or linens. If you used gloves, wash your hands afterward.

If you have used the product within the past 21 days and have fever or other melioidosis symptoms, seek medical care and tell your doctor you were exposed to the spray, the CDC said.

If you were exposed to the product in the last seven days but do not have symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you get antibiotics to prevent infection, the agency said.

Person-to-person spread is extremely rare, the CDC said.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on melioidosis.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Oct. 22, 2021; Walmart, news release, Oct. 22,2021; Associated Press