- Lavender spray bottle sold at Walmart in October 2021 contained deadly, rare bacteria
- The rare bacteria found was Burkholderia pseudomallei, which causes an illness known as melioidosis
- The bacteria in the spray lead to two deaths and two severe illnesses in children and adults
A lavender spray sold at Walmart resulted in two deaths and severe illnesses of four people, according to a case study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
All four patients had used the lavender and chamomile scent of Better Homes & Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray With Gemstones which had been imported from India and sold at 55 Walmart stores. The spray was manufactured by Flora Classique Inc. and sold under the Better Homes & Gardens brand.
What did all the spray bottles contain? A rare bacteria called Burkholderia pseudomallei that causes an illness known as melioidosis. Melioidosis can lead to joint pain, seizures and fevers and affect the heart, brain, lungs and more.
A 5-year-old boy in Georgia arrived at an emergency department with vomiting, weakness and a sore throat, on July 12, 2021. During his hospitalization, his fever rose to more than 102 degrees, his breathing was erratic and he tested positive for COVID-19. After being treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir, he died four days later.
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His autopsy detected coronavirus but also Burkholderia pseudomallei in the boy’s lungs, liver, spleen and brain. In another case, a 4-year-old girl in Texas exhibited vomiting and high fevers and was thought to have a urinary tract infection and placed on antibiotics.
She later developed septic shock which causes organs to shut down. The girl survived but needed a wheelchair and remained non-verbal after her hospitalization, according to the study.
In October 2021, two deaths were reported and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined a version of the product “contained the dangerous bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei which causes melioidosis,” the recall notice said. The October recall was announced for 3,900 bottles of Better Homes and Gardens-branded- Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones.
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In the adult cases, one 53-year-old man in Minnesota went to the hospital with weakness, confusion and a 104-degree fever. He was discharged but the study said his mental status didn’t improve. A Kansas woman of the same age hadd breathing problems and weakness and went into septic shock. She died nine days later.
The study added there are few cases of the bacteria in the U.S. and the illness can be mistakes for COVID-19, tuberculosis or the flu.
“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,” Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told USA TODAY in October.
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda