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QUICK-CHECK: Lavender in the News March 2022

ADVERSE LAVENDER ASSOCIATION IN THE NEWS: A lethal bacterial disease linked to an imported product branded under Better Homes and Gardens featuring “Lavender” among its components.

PRODUCT: Better Homes and Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones: Lavender and Chamomile Scent. (Note: all scent variants of this product were recalled in November 2021). Distribution was nationwide, in Walmart stores and online.

DISEASE LINKED TO PRODUCT EXPOSURE: Melioidosis, a treatable disease caused by the infecting bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Because this organism is rare in the U.S. (but indigenous in parts of India and southeast Asia), it is poorly recognized, and treatment can be delayed. Confirmation resulted from an intense investigation by the CDC of a cluster of cases, initially focused in Georgia. Cases have been confirmed in other states. Reference: New England Journal of Medicine 2022; 386: 861-868.

ADVERSE OUTCOMES: Serious illness requiring hospitalization. Fatalities have occurred including a child. Severe persistent disabilities after recovery have been observed in some surviving victims.

REASSURANCE TO LAVENDER FANS: This illness is caused by a rare bacterium that has nothing to do with lavender itself, but apparently contaminated at least some bottles of an imported room spray that contained lavender fragrance, and was labeled as such.


  1. (1)  Discontinue use of the product immediately. Double bag the product, and return it to a Walmart store.
  2. (2)  Wash sheets, linen, clothing that may have been sprayed, and allow to dry completely in a hot dryer.
  3. (3)  Wipe down any sprayed surfaces with a strong bacterial disinfectant.
  4. (4)  Wash hands thoroughly after handling this product or any items that had been sprayed.
  5. (5)  If you suspect an exposure to this product, and have unexplained fever or other symptoms,contact a physician and report the potential exposure.

Informational summary by Michael Lemmers MD, 3 March 2022.


Sarah Richards
Author: Sarah Richards