Dangerous Bacteria in Better Homes and Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray Prompts Walmart Recall
On October 22, 2021, Walmart announced it is recalling around 3,900 bottles of Better Homes and Gardens’ Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones, according to a report from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. The retail giant is recalling the room sprays due to the risk of serious injury and death.
CDC Discovered Dangerous Bacteria in the Aromatherapy Products
In its investigation of four confirmed cases of melioidosis (in Texas, Kansas, Georgia, and Minnesota), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested a bottle of the aromatherapy product and detected the presence of harmful bacteria, Burkholderia pseudomallei. This type of bacteria is known to cause the sometimes fatal melioidosis. To date, two deaths from the condition have been reported in the U.S, including that of a child.
On October 6, the CDC took samples from a container of Better Homes and Gardens Lavender & Chamomile aromatherapy room spray found in the residence of a victim from Georgia. This individual developed melioidosis in July of 2021.Continued testing determined that the bacteria identified in the four patients have the same genetic footprint as that of the bacteria found in the product sample, the CDC reported.
The four melioidosis victims were made ill by bacteria with a genetic footprint similar to South Asian strains. The aromatherapy product was manufactured in India.
Affected Room Spray Products
The recall includes the following scents in the Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray product line:
- Lavender & Chamomile
- Lemon and Mandarin
- Lime & Eucalyptus
- Sandalwood and Vanilla
These aromatherapy products sold for around $4 and came in a 5-ounce glass bottle with a pump spray novel.
Rigorous testing continues
In its efforts to ascertain the source of the cluster of melioidosis cases, the CDC also tested not only blood samples but also water and soil samples from around the residences of the four melioidosis patients. When the agency tested the Better Homes & Gardens spray, it tested positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei.
Inger Damon, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, expressed serious concern about how the cases of melioidosis “spread across time and geography.”
What to Do if You have Used This Room Spray in Your Home
The CDC issued specific instructions for individuals who have been using the Better Homes and Gardens’ Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones, as follows:
- Immediately cease use of the room spray. Individuals should neither open their bottles nor discard them with regular garbage.
- Use clean, clear zip-top (sandwich) bags to double bag the bottles. Put the bottles in small cardboard boxes and return it to a Walmart store. Walmart will issue you a refund, along with a $20 gift card.
- Use laundry detergent and/or bleach, if desired, to wash any linens or sheets that might have spray on them. Completely dry the washed pieces in a hot dryer.
- Use an undiluted disinfectant, like Pine-Sol, to wipe down any surfaces that might have been sprayed.
- Minimize handling of the bottle, and thoroughly wash hands after they have come in contact with bottles or sprayed linens or surfaces.
- See a doctor if you develop melioidosis symptoms after using the product in the past 21 days. Be sure to inform the physician of your use of the room spray.
- If you endured exposure to the room spray in the last seven days but have no symptoms, ask your doctor about getting antibiotics to stave off infection.
Physicians are urged to be vigilant about spotting any acute bacterial infection that fails to respond to normal antibiotics. In such cases, doctors should ask about the patient’s exposure to the recalled room spray over the course of the previous 21 days. Healthcare providers should consider melioidosis as a possible cause of the patient’s illness, regardless of whether the patient has traveled internationally.
Symptoms of Melioidosis
The CDC reports that melioidosis infections manifest as distinct types, each with unique, identifying symptoms. It is important to note the condition’s symptoms are often wrongly attributed to another case, including pneumonia or tuberculosis.
If you have been exposed to the Better Homes and Gardens’ Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones, consider the following possible types of melioidosis infection that CDC identifies, based on the listed symptoms:
- Chest/stomach pain
- Brain/central nervous system infection
- Join/muscle pain
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
- High fever
- Localized swelling/pain
- Respiratory distress
- Joint pain
- Abdominal discomfort
More on the Melioidosis Outbreak
Each year, the U.S. might see roughly 12 cases of melioidosis. Typically, this condition manifests in the U.S. as the result of immigration from or travel to northern Australia and Southeast Asia, including:
- India and Sri Lanka
- Hong Kong
- Southern China
The CDC’s deep concern about these four U.S. cases of melioidosis stems from the condition’s unusual origins. None of the four sick individuals had recently traveled internationally. Because the strain linked to these individuals was common to the strain found in South Asia, the agency suspected an imported product might be connected to the outbreak in the U.S.
On October 26, 2021, the CDC confirmed the room spray as the cause of the Georgia patient’s melioidosis, as well as that of the patients in Texas, Minnesota, and Kansas.
CDC is also working with the room spray manufacturer in India to identify any other products that might contain the same ingredients used in the aromatherapy product.
Improper disposal of the room spray could cause even more problems
If consumers do not follow proper packaging and disposal instructions for bottles of the aromatherapy room sprays, greater trouble might be coming down the pike. Not a natural inhabitant of U.S. water and soil, Burkholderia pseudomallei could establish itself if the products are poured down the drain or find themselves in landfills. The CDC warns this could lead to future U.S. cases of melioidosis.