Rare Infection Linked to Room Spray

Water and soil are the usual transmission sources when rare Burkholderia pseudomallei infections occur.  But Food Safety News reports that the source of four recent associated Burkholderia pseudomallei infections, also known as melioidosis, was Gardens-branded Essential Oil infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones  “Lavender & Chamomile” scent manufactured in India and sold at Walmart.

The killer room spray has caused one death in Georgia and three infections in Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas.

The CDC first reported on the cluster of Burkholderia pseudomallei infections in the U.S. on Aug. 9, 2021.  To date, information suggests:

  • The spray was sold at Walmart between February and October 21, 2021, and was distributed in a limited number of stores and online nationwide.
  • This product was removed from stores and online marketplaces on Oct. 21, 2021, and five other scents under the same brand were removed from Walmart marketplaces as well (Lemon & Mandarin, Lavender, Peppermint, Lime & Eucalyptus, and Sandalwood & Vanilla).

In a CDC update, it was noted symptoms in the four cases (one death and 3 infections) ranged from cough and shortness of breath to weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, intermittent fever, and rash on the trunk, abdomen, and face.  Two of the cases, one of them fatal, had several risk factors for melioidosis, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cirrhosis.  The remaining cases had no known risk factors for melioidosis, though one case had a co-infection with SARS-CoV-2.  Both pediatric cases had severe neurologic involvement.

Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, is a “Tier 1 select agent” that can infect animals and humans, CDC reports.

What you should do:

  • If you have this product in your home, stop using immediately.  If unopened, do not open the bottle.
  • Dispose of the product using extra precautions.  Do not throw away or dispose of the bottle in the regular trash.  Double bag the bottle in clean, clear zip-top bags and place in a cardboard box.  Return the bagged and boxed product to a Walmart store.
  • Wash sheets or linens that the product may have been sprayed on using normal laundry detergent and dry completely in a hot dryer; bleach can be used if desired.
  • Wipe down counters and surfaces that might have the spray on them with undiluted PineSol or similar disinfectant.
  • Limit direct handling of the spray bottle and wash hands thoroughly after touching the bottle or linens.  If gloves were used, wash hands afterward.
  • If you used the product within the past 21 days and develop a fever or other melioidosis symptoms, you should seek medical care and inform your doctor about your potential exposure.

Authored by: Barb Ingham

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