NDDoH warns of rare but dangerous bacteria found in retail aromatherapy product

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BISMARCK, ND- The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is alerting citizens of an ongoing national investigation of four cases of severe illness due to a rare bacteria called Burkholderia pseudomallei, which causes melioidosis.

The cases were reported from Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas. Two of the cases were fatal. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the bacteria in a bottle of “Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones.” The product tested was taken from the home of one of the cases.

This product was sold in limited quantities in the United States by Walmart—both in stores and online—and comes in a variety of scents. Walmart stores nationwide have pulled the product from their shelves.

“At this time, we do not know if any North Dakota stores sold the product,” said Michelle Dethloff, NDDoH Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Director. “Because it was available to purchase online, we want to make sure North Dakota residents are aware this situation.” 

North Dakota residents who have this product—of any scent—in their home should stop using it immediately. They should NOT throw the product away or try to dispose of the product.

The CDC recommends that anyone who has this aromatherapy spray in their home:

  1. Stop using this product immediately. Do not open the bottle. Do not throw away or dispose of the bottle in the regular trash.
  2. Double bag the bottle in clean, clear zip-top bags and place in a small cardboard box. Return the bagged and boxed product to a Walmart store.
  3. 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.
  4. Wipe down counters and surfaces that might have the spray on them with undiluted Pine-Sol or similar disinfectant.
  5. Limit how much you handle the spray bottle and wash hands thoroughly after touching the bottle or linens. If you used gloves, wash hands afterward.
  6. If you have used the product within the past 21 days and have fever or other melioidosis symptoms, seek medical care and tell your doctor you were exposed to the spray. If you do not have symptoms but were exposed to the product in the last 7 days, your doctor may recommend that you get antibiotics (post-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent infection.

Symptoms of melioidosis vary and usually occur two to four weeks after exposure but may be sooner or later. 

Fever, breathing problems, skin problems, neurological problems, and gastro-intestinal problems may be noticed. 

North Dakota residents who have used this product and develop or have developed an illness should consult with their health care provider regarding their illness and mention the possible exposure to the product.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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