Walmart Recalls Essential Oil Spray Linked
to 2 Deaths

Brenda Goodman, MA

October 23, 2021

An essential oil room spray sold at Walmart is the source of rare, but dangerous bacteria that infected and killed a woman in Georgia earlier this year, the CDC said on Friday.

The agency has issued an urgent alert to doctors to be on the lookout for symptoms of melioidosis, which can be difficult to diagnosis.

Walmart has recalled 3,900 bottles of Better Homes and Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones, which comes in 6 different scents: Lemon & Mandarin, Lavender, Peppermint, Lime & Eucalyptus, and Sandalwood & Vanilla. All bottles of the spray were pulled from store shelves in October. 

They were previously sold at 55 stores nationwide and online at Walmart.com. The spray was manufactured in India. The bacteria was found in the Lavender & Chamomile scent, and the CDC is now testing the others.

Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria found in the spray has been linked to four infections in Kansas, Minnesota, Texas and Georgia. Two children were infected, including one who died.

The most recent death was a patient who died in a Georgia hospital in July. Post-mortem testing revealed melioidosis was the case of death.

CDC disease detectives have been urgently hunting the source of these rare cases of melioidosis, an infection that's usually seen in Asia.

When the Georgia patient was identified, they tested products found in the patient's home and found the bacteria. Genetic testing revealed it was the same bacteria associated with the other four infections.

The CDC issued an urgent health alert to doctors to be on the lookout for cases of melioidosis, which can be difficult to diagnosis because the first symptoms can look like a number of other illnesses. 

The first symptoms seen in these four cases ranged from cough and shortness of breath to weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, intermittent fever, rash on the abdomen and face. Both children had severe neurologic issues.

If you have the spray at home, the CDC says consumers should stop using it immediately. Handle the bottle as little as possible and thoroughly wash hands after. Do not open the bottle or attempt to throw it away.

They are asking anyone who has this essential oil room spray at home to double-bag it in clear, resealable plastic bags (like Ziploc bags), put it in a small box and return it to a Walmart store.

Thoroughly wash any sheets or linens that have been sprayed. Dry in a hot dryer. You should also wipe down any counters or surfaces that may have been sprayed with an undiluted disinfectant cleaner to kill the bacteria.

Customers will get a $20 gift card for the return.

Source:

Consumer Product Safety Commission, Recall, Oct. 22, 2021

CDC, Health Alert Network Notice, Oct. 22, 2021

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