The aromatherapy spray that killed two people in a multi-state outbreak also killed a pet raccoon

An aromatic spray with the scent of lavender and chamomile was contaminated with a deadly bacteria that killed two people in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, and also killed one of the victim’s pet raccoon.

In October 2021, CDC investigators discovered Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria in lavender and chamomile scented aromatherapy sprays with gemstones, which were imported from India and sold at 55 Walmart stores.

The bacteria cause a rare disease called melioidosis, which causes symptoms that can be mistaken for the flu or a cold and can be treated with certain intravenous antibiotics if caught early.

Walmart voluntarily recalled about 3,900 bottles of the product from 55 stores in 18 states after the company became aware of the concerns, according to spokesperson Randy Hargrove. The company has also reached out to more than 2,000 customers who have purchased the spray to alert them to withdrawals and offer refunds.

“Our sympathies go out to the four families affected by this situation,” Walmart said in an October 2021 statement. customers and prevent further product sales while federal agencies continue their investigations.”

The droplets have been linked to a multi-state outbreak that has claimed the lives of a 5-year-old boy in Georgia and a 53-year-old woman in Kansas. Aromatherapy spray was also the source of illness for a 53-year-old man in Minnesota and a 4-year-old girl in Texas.

According to the CDC, a previously healthy Texas patient’s pet raccoon broke a bottle of spray and walked through the liquid in March 2021. The raccoon showed “severe neurological symptoms consistent with neurological chloasma” about two weeks after exposure and died three later. days. .

“This is the first presumptive case of catastrophic disease documented in a raccoon and the first animal case associated with this outbreak,” the CDC said in a report published Friday.

The CDC traveled to the Texas property to collect samples from the raccoon, which was buried on the family’s property, and the surrounding environment.

Of the twelve tissue samples collected, two of them from the raccoon’s intraorbital tissues tested positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei, confirming that the animal probably died of schizophrenia.

All environmental samples collected from around the raccoon burial site tested negative for the bacteria, according to the CDC.

After identifying bacteria in an aromatherapy product in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised anyone with a spray in their home to stop using it immediately and dispose of it by placing it in clear bags and a cardboard box and taking it to a Walmart location.

Better Homes and Gardens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Burkholderia pseudomallei is rarely found in the United States and is generally found in contaminated soil or water in parts of South and Southeast Asia.

Although rare in the United States, melasma is a serious disease with 12 cases reported annually. Most cases have been found in people who have lived or traveled to areas where Burkholderia pseudomallei has been found and person-to-person spread is “extremely rare,” according to the CDC.

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