Contaminated eye drops linked to one more death, 81 infections: CDC

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An outbreak related to recalled eye drops has infected 81 people in Florida and 18 other states, according to a recent update from WFLA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said it is studying the strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Health officials said the stain, labeled VIM-GES-CRPA, had never been reported in the United States before the outbreak.

It has been reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Four deaths have been linked to drug-resistant bacterial infection resulting from contaminated eye drops.

“Most patients reported using artificial tears,” the CDC said. “Patients reported using over ten different brands of artificial tears, and some patients used multiple brands. EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free, over-the-counter product packaged in multidose bottles, was the most cited brand. This was the only common artificial tear product identified across the four healthcare facility clusters.”

Researchers said opened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears from multiple lots contained the VIM-GES-CRPA strain. These bottles were taken from infected and uninfected people in two different states.

The CDC said it still tests unopened bottles to see if they were contaminated during manufacture.

So far, 14 people have lost their sight and four people have had their eyeballs surgically removed, the CDC said.

The CDC recommends that doctors and patients stop using EzriCare or Delsam Pharma artificial tear products.

The Food and Drug Administration said both products were recalled. It issue separate warnings that customers stop using the products immediately.

According to health officials, those who have used EzriCare or Delsam Pharma artificial tears and have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek immediate medical attention.

According to the CDC, symptoms of an eye infection can include:

  • Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye.
  • eye pain or discomfort.
  • Redness of the eye or eyelid.
  • sensation of something in the eye (foreign body sensation).
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • blurred vision

“Currently, there is no recommendation for testing in patients who have used this product and who do not experience signs or symptoms of infection,” the CDC said.

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