Three people have now died, eight others have lost their vision and four patients had to have their eyeballs removed after using eyedrops that were contaminated with a rare bacteria.
A reported 68 patients in 16 states have been infected with this ‘rare strain’ of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as of March 14, aaccording to an update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Global Pharma Healthcare now recalled its Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops that were distributed by EzriCare and Delsam Pharma last month. The drops were selling at drug stores across the country, including Walmart, Target, and CVS, and on Amazon, though the products have since been pulled.
Health authorities are continuing to track infections as they investigate the outbreak in 16 states, including California, New York, Illinois, Texas and Pennsylvania.
The CDC is urging patients who have used EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s artificial tears and who have noticed symptoms of an eye infection to get medical care ‘immediately.’
Signs of an eye infection include yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye; eye pain or discomfort; redness of the eye or eyelid; feeling of something in your eye; increased sensitivity to light; and blurry vision, the CDC reports.
Most of the cases have been linked to four regional clusters and Ezricare’s drops are the only product used by patients in each of those groups.
Most patients reported using 10 different brands of artificial tears, but EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free, over-the-counter product packaged in multi-dose bottles, was the brand most commonly reported.
The CDC identified the 16 states where patients are infected as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The recalled drops were manufactured by Global Pharma Healthcare in India, where the bacteria – Pseudomonas aeruginosa – is commonly linked to outbreaks in hospitals.
It can spread through contaminated hands or medical equipment.
The outbreak is considered particularly worrisome because the bacteria driving it is resistant to standard antibiotics.
EYE INFECTION SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
Patients who have used EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s artificial tears and who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek medical care immediately.
Eye infection symptoms may include:
- Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye
- Eye pain or discomfort
- Redness of the eye or eyelid
- Feeling of something in your eye (foreign body sensation)
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision