One person has died and at least three others have permanent vision loss from a bacterial infection that may be linked to an over-the-counter brand of eye drops, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, urging consumers Wednesday to stop using EzriCare Artificial . Tears while investigating plague
The majority of those affected reportedly used preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears before becoming ill, said Maroya Spalding Walters, chief of the CDC’s antimicrobial resistance team.
So far, the CDC has identified at least 55 people in 12 states Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria resistant to most antibiotics. Cases have been reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Three-quarters of patients said they used artificial tears before they got the infection. Of those who could recall the brand name, 85% said they used preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears, Walters said. The CDC first alerted the public to the potential danger in a statement on January 20.
When the infection has not been definitively traced to the eye drops, CDC is working with the Food and Drug Administration and state and local health officials to investigate.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time this highly resistant organism has been linked to a contaminated product,” Walters said.
Eleven developed eye infections, at least three of whom were blind in one eye. Others have respiratory tract infections or urinary tract infections. One person died when the bacteria entered the bloodstream.
It is not clear whether the affected patients have eye diseases that make them more susceptible, such as glaucoma or cataracts.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria are commonly found in water and soil and even on the hands of healthy people. Infections usually occur in hospital settings among people with weakened immune systems.
Such bacteria are often resistant to standard antibiotics.
“This is very important,” said Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Our standard treatment is no longer available” to treat the infection.
The drops under investigation were labeled as preservative-free.
“That means there is no product to prevent microbiological growth,” Walters said.
The product can become contaminated during the manufacturing process or when a person with the bacteria on their skin opens the container. The CDC found the bacteria in the eye drop bottle and tested it to see if it matched the strain found in the patient.
Eye infection symptoms
According to the CDC, people who have used eye drops should seek medical attention if they have symptoms, including:
- Yellow, green or clear discharge from the eye.
- Eye pain or discomfort.
- Redness of the eyes or eyelids.
- The feeling is in your eyes (foreign body sensation).
- Increased sensitivity to light.
- Blurred vision.
As of Wednesday, EzriCare Artificial Tears had not been recalled. They are already sold on Amazon and in stores like Walmart.
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