CDC issues urgent warning over contaminated eyedrops feared to have killed one patient and made several others go blind
Eyedrops feared to be contaminated with a bacterial super-bug are thought to have killed at least one person and caused blindness in several more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an urgent warning over EzriCare Artificial Tears, a popular over-the-counter drug sold across the US.
They are believed to be at the center of 50 eye infections across 11 states between last May and this January, including one that was fatal and several more that caused ‘permanent blindness’.
Affected patients all reported use of the eyedrops to CDC before they fell ill. The agency is now investigating to confirm the products were contaminated with the bacteria.
The CDC has linked 50 cases of bacterial infection across 11 states to EzriCare Artificial Tears (pictured). Multiple patients have gone blind and at least one person has died
The preservative-free eye drops were contaminated with bacteria responsible for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a highly dangerous antibiotic-resistant bug.
The drops were previously sold at Walmart and on online retail giant Amazon, though the products have since been pulled.
While the CDC has not yet confirmed EzriCare’s tears are the cause, the agency has advised against using them while it investigates.
‘CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete,’ the agency wrote.
Cases of the bacterial infection have been reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Patients reported to the CDC that they had used the eye drops before they fell ill.
At least 50 patients have suffered an illness as a result of the drops.
Patients suffered blindness, respiratory infections and urinary tract infections, among other illnesses.
A blood infection suffered by one person led to their eventual death. It is unclear if the patient suffered an underlying condition that put them at an increased risk.
In a statement last week, EzriCare said it did not receive any reports of adverse events from its products and has not been asked to conduct a recall.
‘In an abundance of caution, EzriCare recommends that during this evolving situation you discontinue use of any portions of EzriCare Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops you may have until we can discover more details about any potential safety concerns,’ the firm wrote.
The company’s artificial tears are all-natural, meaning they do not contain preservatives that would often prevent such contamination.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes infections in the blood and lungs, the CDC reports.
Like many other super-bugs, it is most common in hospitals – where bacterial find a way to survive in hyper-sterilized environments.
The agency reported 32,600 infections in 2017, the most recently available data. An estimated 2,700 patients died from the ailment.
It is most associated with contamination on ventilators, catheters and other similar medical devices.
While it is usually treated with antibiotics, the CDC notes that they can often be ineffective as strains of the bacteria build resistance.
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