NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials are advising people to stop using over-the-counter eye drops linked to drug-related infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a health alert to doctors Wednesday night, saying the outbreak has killed at least 55 people in 12 states. One died.
Investigators have linked the infections to EzriCare artificial tears, including some found in the blood, urine and lungs. Many patients have reported using the product, which is an ointment used to treat irritation and dryness.
The infections were all caused by a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Investigators found that strain of bacteria in open Ezricare bottles, but further testing was underway to confirm the strains were the same.
Ezricare said it did not know of any evidence linking the outbreak to the product, but it has stopped distributing the eye drops. It also has an advertisement on it. website Users are urged to stop using the drops.
Where possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them not to continue with the product. “We have also contacted both the CDC and the FDA immediately and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any questions they may have,” the company said.
Two weeks ago, the CDC alerted medical professional associations to a possible link between the droplets and the infection. Wednesday’s alert was a broader, more public warning.
Infections have been reported in patients in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. One patient – in Washington – died of a blood infection. At least five others suffered permanent vision loss.
The outbreak is considered particularly serious because the bacteria it causes is resistant to standard antibiotics.
Investigators found that the bacteria were not susceptible to any antibiotics routinely tested in public health laboratories. However, a new antibiotic called cefiderocol seems to work.
How can eye drops cause an infection in the blood or lungs? The eye is connected to the nostrils through the slit tubes. Bacteria can enter the lungs from the nostrils. Also, bacteria in these parts of the body can spread infection to other areas, such as blood or wounds, CDC officials said.
The product is manufactured by Global Pharma Healthcare Pvt Ltd in India. It’s made, Ezricare said.
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