The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that the number of people with highly drug-resistant bacterial infections linked to contaminated eyedrops has reached 81.
A fourth person has died in 18 states, including New York.
According to an updated alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of May 15, the outbreak has resulted in four deaths, along with 14 patients who have suffered vision loss and four patients who required surgery to remove an eye. The outbreak has resulted in multiple types of infections, not just infections of the eye, the CDC said. “These were catastrophic and life-altering infections,” Maroya Spalding Walters, who leads the CDC’s antimicrobial resistance team, said in an interview.
Cases have been discovered in 18 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. The infections were all caused by bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which was found in patients’ eyes, blood, urine and lungs, according to the CDC. Before last year, this particular form of the bacteria had never been reported in the United States.
Though officials said the bacteria is extremely resistant to drug treatment, one medication called cefiderocol did work in treating some infections.
While patients reported using over 10 different brands of eye drops, health officials said most had used EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free, over-the-counter product packaged in multi-dose bottles. Three products have been recalled by the manufacturer, India-based Global Pharma: EzriCare Artificial Tears, Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears, and Delsam Pharma Artificial Ointment.
Patients and healthcare providers should immediately stop using and discard EzriCare Artificial Tears, Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears, and Delsam Pharma Artificial Ointment.
No other products have been linked to the outbreak, the CDC said.
Patients who have used EzriCare and who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek immediate medical care. Eye infection symptoms may include:
Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye
Eye pain or discomfort
Redness of the eye or eyelid
A feeling of something in your eye
Increased sensitivity to light