NEWS

Walmart Recalls Room Spray Found to Contain Deadly Bacteria

An aromatherapy spray from Walmart, lavender scented, made by Better Homes and Gardens brand.

CSPSC

Update

As of November 4, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded the recall based on the results of further testing.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the recall now includes the following scents from the Better Homes and Gardens-branded Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones:

  • Lavender & Chamomile
  • Lemon & Mandarin
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Lime & Eucalyptus
  • Sandalwood & Vanilla

As the CDC continues testing, the list of recalled productions may change.

Key Takeaways

  • The CPSC is recalling several Better Homes and Gardens room sprays after CDC testing revealed bacterial contamination.
  • The bacteria, called Burkholderia pseudomallei, can cause a rare infection called melioidosis. Several people in the U.S. recently become infected with or died from melioidosis, and the spray was found in each of their homes.
  • If you purchased one of the sprays in the last 21 days, follow CPSC guidelines for disposing of it and contact your healthcare provider.

On Friday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that several aromatherapy sprays sold by Walmart are being recalled after the products were linked to several illnesses and deaths in the United States.

Recalled Sprays

Several scents of the Better Homes and Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones are part of the recall. The 5-ounce size bottles have been sold for around $4 at 55 Walmart locations in the U.S. between February 2021 to October 2021.

  • Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lavender & Chamomile (84140411420)
  • Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lemon & 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 & Vanilla (84140411425)

What To Do If You Have the Sprays

The CPSC is advising consumers who have the products to stop using them immediately. Since the bottles may contain dangerous bacteria, consumers should take extra precautions.

If you have one of the sprays, do not throw the bottle away in your regular trash. You will need to return it to the Walmart store where you purchased it. Here are the steps the CPSC says to take to make sure that you handle the product safely.

  1. If the bottle is still unopened, do not open it.
  2. Put on disposable gloves.
  3. Put the bottle in two plastic bags that you can seal. Put the bagged bottles into a cardboard box. Return the package to the Walmart store.
  4. Remove your gloves and throw them away. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  5. If the bottle was opened and you used the product in your home, make sure that you wash everything that it came into contact with (such as bedding and clothing).
  6. Using an undiluted disinfectant, wipe household surfaces (such as counters) that may have come into contact with the spray.
  7. Try to limit how much you touch the things that came into contact with the spray. Wear disposable gloves, if possible.
  8. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling anything that might have come into contact with the spray.

If You've Used the Spray

If you opened the sprays and have been using them within the last 21 days, you will need to monitor yourself for symptoms. You should also tell your doctor that you were exposed to the spray.

If you have used the spray in the last week and do not feel sick, you should still tell your doctor. They might want you to take antibiotics to try to prevent infection.

Why Are the Sprays Dangerous?

The sprays were tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because they were found in the homes of several people who became ill or died from a rare infection called melioidosis.

The sprays were found to be contaminated with a bacteria called Burkholderia pseudomallei, which causes melioidosis. The bacteria live in soil and water, but it’s not very common in the U.S. It’s more often found in South Asian countries and Australia, and some countries in the South Pacific.

Bioterrorism

The CDC considers Burkholderia pseudomallei a potential agent for bioterrorism because it can be spread through water, food, soil, and air, and makes people very sick.

Burkholderia pseudomallei can get to the U.S. if it finds its way into products that are made in these countries. The contaminated room sprays sold at Walmart were made in India.

Animals (including cats, dogs, and livestock) and people can become infected with Burkholderia pseudomallei. They usually get it by ingesting the bacteria through water or food; breathing it in if it’s stirred up in the air or in the dust; or by getting it in an open wound when they touch something (like dirt) that is contaminated. People usually do not catch it from other people.

What Is Melioidosis?

So far, there have been four cases of melioidosis reported in the U.S. that the CDC thinks were linked to the room sprays. They occurred in Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, and Georgia. Two of the people who got sick died, including one child.

Since melioidosis is rare, the CDC took note of the cluster of cases and started investigating right away. As they looked for clues, they determined that one thing all of the people who got sick had in common was that they had the aromatherapy room sprays in their home. When the CDC tested the sprays, they found the bacteria in them, and believe this is what made the people sick.

Symptoms

When someone gets sick with melioidosis, the symptoms that they will have will depend on where the infection occurred. For example, they might have skin infections if they touched soil that was contaminated, or they might have respiratory symptoms if they breathed it in.

Some people will have symptoms within a day of being exposed to the bacteria, while others won't feel sick for years. Usually, people will get sick within a few weeks of being exposed.

Possible symptoms of melioidosis can include:

  • Fever
  • Skin abscesses
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Feeling disoriented
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Anyone can potentially get sick with melioidosis, but people who have weak immune systems and certain health conditions (such as cancer and diabetes) are at a higher risk.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Melioidosis can be hard to diagnose because it can look like a lot of other conditions that affect the respiratory system. Since it’s uncommon, it wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of a doctor’s list of diagnoses.

However, getting diagnosed as soon as possible is very important. The infection can be fatal, but people have a better chance of surviving if they get treatment right away.

Death Risk

According to the CDC, 9 in 10 people who get melioidosis but do not get treatment will die. With treatment, only 4 in 10 people who get the infection will die. People who get intensive treatment in the hospital have an even lower risk of dying—just 2 in 10.

The bacteria that cause melioidosis are resistant to many of the antibiotics that are usually used to treat infections. However, there are a few that can work. They will work better if they are given soon after someone gets sick. People with melioidosis will generally need to get IV antibiotics for at least two weeks and take oral antibiotics for several months to clear the infection.

How to Stay Safe

The best way to protect yourself from melioidosis is to understand your risk and take steps to reduce your chances of being exposed to the bacteria.

For example, if you travel to places where it is common, it’s important to make sure the water you drink is safe.

If you have health conditions that could make you more vulnerable to infection, you might need to avoid doing things that could expose you to the bacteria (such as handling soil in a garden). People who work in the dirt, such as farmers, should always wear protective gear (like boots and gloves).

If you have the contaminated room sprays from Walmart, be sure to take steps to return them to the store safely. According to the CPSC, consumers who return the sprays will receive a $20 gift card.

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10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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