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A living room scent spray sold at Walmart could be linked to four cases of a bacterial infection rarely seen in the United States.. The cases, diagnosed this year, were identified in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas. Two of the people, including a child, have died.
On Friday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Walmart, which sold a product called Better Homes & Gardens, which is an infusion of lavender and chamomile essential oil with gems, is recalling nearly 4,000 bottles from its shelves.
That product was found to be contaminated with a life-threatening bacteria called Burkholderia pseudomallei., and was found in the home of one of the patients.
Federal health officials are now testing other products found in the homes of the other three sufferers.
CPSC spokeswoman Patty Davis said the agency is extremely concerned about the possibility of increased potentially dangerous bacterial exposure.
“The CPSC immediately approached Walmart to work with the company to get this product out of the hands of consumers. We want to prevent someone else from getting sick or dying, ”Davis said.
Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria are generally never found in household products in the US.
These bacteria are most commonly found in contaminated water or soil in Southeast Asia or Northern Australia.. On average, about a dozen cases tend to be diagnosed in the US each year, but generally among people who have traveled abroad.
But these four cases that turned up in a matter of months this year, particularly in people who never traveled outside the country, came to the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When the researchers took soil and water samples from each of the patients’ homes, they found nothing.
It was then that the team refocused their search for the bacteria on imported products used within the home, and finally identified the bacteria in the aromatherapy spray in the Georgia patient’s home on October 6.
The bacteria were found in the lavender and chamomile version of the spray, but CPSC and Walmart are also removing five other scents from the same product line from the shelves. The product was sold in about 55 Walmart stores and on the company’s website, as reported by NBC.
Authorities are asking people who have the products to return them to Walmart without opening the packages or touching them in any way.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.