Walmart is recalling a limited number of bottles of aromatherapy room spray because they may contain “a rare and dangerous bacteria and risk of serious injury and death.”
The recall announced Friday is for 3,900 bottles of “Better Homes and Gardens-branded- Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones” that come in six different scents, according to a recall notice posted on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Two deaths have been reported and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested a version of the product and “determined that it contained the dangerous bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei which causes melioidosis,” the recall notice said.
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The aromatherapy room spray came in 5-ounce glass bottles and was sold at about 55 Walmart stores nationwide and online at walmart.com from February 2021 through October 2021 for about $4.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said the company will continue assisting the two federal agencies “in their investigation and are committed to providing safe, high-quality products to our customers.”
“We are deeply concerned that there may be a connection between this product and this rare bacteria. Our sympathies and concerns are with the four families that have been impacted,” Hargrove said in the statement. “We took immediate action after federal agencies alerted us Wednesday of concerns with an aromatherapy room spray manufactured by Flora Classique Inc. and sold under the Better Homes & Gardens brand.”
Walmart pulled the products, which were made in India, and part of a pilot program in 55 stores, Hargrove said, adding the retailer has also “put a register block in place at our stores and online to prevent any further sales.”
According to the recall, the CDC has been investigating a cluster of four cases of melioidosis, including two deaths, one of which was a child. The cases were reported in Kansas, Minnesota, Texas and Georgia.
The CDC took samples from a bottle of the Better Homes and Gardens Lavender & Chamomile aromatherapy room spray in the home of the Georgia victim.
Melioidosis can lead to a wide range of signs and symptoms from chest pain and coughing to brain infections and seizures, the CDC said.
“Though the source of these four infections has not been confirmed by CDC, the bottle with the same type of bacteria was found in the home of one of the melioidosis decedents,” the recall notice said.
According to the CDC, most cases of melioidosis in the United States are in people who traveled to areas where the disease is more common, but the four patients had no recent history of international travel.
The CDC said the five other scents in this product line are included in the recall, “although it is not yet known if they are affected. Investigation continues into whether other related products and brands may pose a risk.”
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Better Homes and Gardens room spray recall
The aromatherapy was sold with a pump spray nozzle with “Better Homes and Gardens Aromatherapy” printed on the label on the front of the glass bottle. The following scents and products numbers are included in the recall:
- Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lavender & Chamomile: 84140411420
- Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lemon and Mandarin: 84140411421
- Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lavender: 84140411422
- Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Peppermint: 84140411423
- Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lime & Eucalyptus: 84140411424
- Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Sandalwood and Vanilla: 84140411425
Walmart recall information
According to the recall notice, customers who purchased the affected products will receive a $20 Walmart gift card after the item is returned along with a full refund.
“Consistent with CDC recommendations, consumers should immediately stop using the recalled room spray, double bag the bottle in clean, clear zip-top resealable bags, place it in a small cardboard box and return it to any Walmart store for a full refund,” the notice said. “Do not open the bottle. Do not attempt to throw away or dispose of the bottle.”
Walmart said in its statement to USA TODAY that it’s important these products be handled correctly and returned to Walmart. The retailer will provide a full refund and $20 gift card “for any inconvenience.”
Customers with questions about the recall can call Walmart at 800-925-6278 from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. Central Time daily.
What is melioidosis?
Melioidosis, also called Whitmore’s disease, is an infectious disease that can infect humans or animals, according to the CDC, which says it is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei and “predominately a disease of tropical climates, especially in Southeast Asia and northern Australia where it is widespread.”
The bacteria causing melioidosis are found in contaminated water and soil. It is spread to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source.
There are several types of melioidosis infections, which each have their own set of signs and symptoms. The CDC said because of the wide range of signs and symptoms it “can be mistaken for other diseases such as tuberculosis or more common forms of pneumonia.”
Examples of melioidosis infections and symptoms include:
- Localized infection: Localized pain or swelling; fever; ulceration; abscess
- Pulmonary infection: cough; chest pain; high fever; headache; anorexia
- Bloodstream infection: fever; headache; respiratory distress; abdominal discomfort; joint pain; disorientation
- Disseminated infection: fever; weight loss; stomach or chest pain; muscle or joint pain; headache; central nervous system/brain infection; seizures
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