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Walmart recalls room spray over rare bacteria tied to deaths

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 27, 2021

 (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
By Crayton Harrison Bloomberg

Walmart told customers to immediately stop using a household spray, double-bag it, put it in a cardboard box and return it because the product might contain a “rare and dangerous bacteria.”

The aromatherapy spray, a Better Homes and Gardens-branded product labeled “Lavender & Chamomile with Gemstones,” was linked to a cluster of cases in the U.S. this year of melioidosis, a dangerous bacterial infection normally found in tropical climates. Wal-Mart licenses the Better Homes and Gardens name for the product, which is manufactured in India, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that its lab tests had genetically matched the bacterial strains of patients in Kansas, Minnesota and Texas to a spray bottle in the home of a Georgia patient who was one of two people to have died in the cluster. One of those who died was a child.

Walmart said Tuesday it immediately pulled the product from about 55 stores in 18 U.S. states and stopped online sales. The retailer emailed customers who purchased the spray online and tracked down more than 2,000 people who bought it in stores to inform them of the recall. Customers who return the product get a full refund and a $20 gift card.

In all, the company has recalled about 3,900 spray bottles in six different scents. The product was manufactured by closely-held Flora Classique Inc., Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said.

“We are committed to providing safe, high-quality products to our customers,” said Walmart. “Our sympathies go out to the four families that have been impacted by this situation.”

The CDC warned against even pouring the product down the drain or throwing it away. The bacteria — Burkholderia pseudomallei — isn’t common in the U.S., and it would be better to keep it that way, the agency said.

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