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Walmart has voluntarily recalled 3,900 bottles of an aromatherapy spray sold in 55 stores across 18 states after it identified a "rare and dangerous" bacteria in the product that has now been linked to four illnesses and two deaths, abc news reports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that it had identified the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei in the aromatherapy spray. The bacteria in question is a soil-dwelling bacterium endemic in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, particularly in Thailand and northern Australia, which infects humans and other animals and causes the disease melioidosis.
According to Nature, "the high associated mortality rate, wide availability in the environment in endemic areas, intrinsic resistance to many antibiotics and the potential for aerosol spread has made this organism a potential bioterror agent."
The spray, “Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones," and manufactured by Flora Classique, was found Oct. 6 in the home of a Georgia resident who became ill with melioidosis in late July, according to the CDC.
The CDC said it will continue to test the bacteria in the bottle to potentially match the bacteria identified in the four patients. The symptoms of melioidosis are similar to that of a cold or flu, according to the CDC. In other words, similar to those of covid.
The contaminated spray was sold at about 55 Walmart stores and on Walmart’s websites between February and Oct. 21. Walmart has pulled the remaining bottles of this spray and related products from the shelves and its websites.
"Our hearts go out to the families that have been impacted by this situation," Inger Damon, director of the CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said in a statement. "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."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Walmart issued a recall for the lavender and chamomile room spray along with five other scents in the same product line.
In addition to emailing customers who purchased the product online, emailed more than 2,000 customers who purchased the product at one of its stores; sending letters to another 263 customers with no email address on record and placing calls to a number of others with no available email or physical address.
The CDC will continue to investigate whether other related aromatherapy scents and brands may pose a risk.