Walmart Recalls Product Linked to Two US Deaths, Rare Bacterial Illness

by Amy Myers
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Walmart has taken an aromatherapy spray off the shelves after discovering its link to a rare bacterial illness, melioidosis. Authorities have reported four cases of the illness so far. Two cases ended in fatalities. According to the Center for Disease Control, symptoms of melioidosis look similar to those of a cold or flu.

The franchise sold The Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones at 55 Walmart stores and online between February 2021 and October 21. Now, it has pulled more than 4,000 remaining bottles. This also includes the five other scents in the product line from its inventory to keep the illness from spreading.

The CDC announced the presence of the rare bacteria, Burkholderia pseudomallei, in the product on Friday, October 22. According to the statement, on October 6, officials found the aromatherapy spray in the home of a Georgia resident who contracted melioidosis in late July this year. Researchers will continue testing to determine if the strain in the spray is the same in three other victims.

Along with the information regarding the rare illness, the CDC also expressed its condolences to the families of the victims.

“Our hearts go out to the families that have been impacted by this situation,” said Inger Damon, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, which manages melioidosis. “We at CDC have been very concerned to see these serious related illness spread across time and geography. That is why our scientists have continued to work tirelessly to try to find the potential source for the melioidosis infections in these patients. We hope this work can help protect other people who may have used this spray.”

CDC Continues Investigation into Origination of Rare Bacterial Illness

Outside of its presence in the recent Walmart products, the strain of Burkholderia pseudomallie is usually found in South Asia. However, cases of the rare illness, melioidosis, occur in other parts of the world as well, such as northern Australia, Brazil and Puerto Rico. According to the CDC’s report, Better Homes & Gardens manufactures the room spray in India.

This causes concern for other brands and product lines that derive from the same area. As a result, the CDC is investigating the possibility of contamination in other related products. Typically, the U.S. only sees roughly 12 cases of the rare illness every year, and person-to-person contamination is uncommon. Currently, the CDC is working with the health departments of Kansas, Minnesota and Texas. They hope to determine if the remaining three victims had the Walmart product in their possession.

If Walmart customers find a bottle of Better Homes & Gardens aromatherapy spray in their home, the CDC recommends halting use immediately, double-bagging the product, and returning it to the store. Then wash all items that came in contact with the spray, as well as any surfaces.

Outsider.com