The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked an outbreak of drug-resistant bacteria to a particular brand of eye drops.
Infections from multiple types of these bacteria were traced back to EzriCare Artificial Tears, the CDC said in a statement on January 20.
The agency identified “isolates” in 55 patients across 12 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin) between May 17, 2022, and January 19, 2023. Most of these patients had reported that they used the eye drops before contracting antibiotic-resistant infections.
Eleven of the patients developed eye infections, with three developing blindness in one eye, according to NBC News.
Other patients developed respiratory or urinary tract infections.
One patient even died as a result of the bacteria entering his bloodstream.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be especially dangerous, becoming difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, resulting in severe organ damage and even death.
This bacterial outbreak has been linked to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria known to cause multiple infections in different parts of the body. It is typically found in water or soil, and most people contract it after having surgery. People with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible.
However, this particular outbreak of Pseudomonas still appears to be treatable with cefiderocol, a newer antibiotic used to treat severe urinary tract infections, according to authorities.
The CDC discovered the bacteria in samples of the medication and is testing to verify that the bacteria match the strain infecting people.
An article published by the National Library of Medicine said that because of the bacteria’s “extreme versatility, antibiotic resistance, and a wide range of dynamic defenses,” infections caused by the bacteria are difficult to treat.
The organization detailed a report of a “morbidly obese” man whose condition was exacerbated by the bacteria in 2020. Obesity remains one of the most prevalent diseases plaguing the nation and is known to negatively affect the immune system’s ability to fight off many illnesses.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, obesity rates have been steadily increasing across the country, even in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which not long ago was ranked on the higher end of a list of the fattest metro areas in the United States.
Despite these recent cases of infection, the CDC has not yet established a definitive link to the eye drops. Still, the agency encouraged people to avoid the brand.
“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 said.
EzriCare, the eye drops’ manufacturer, said in a statement on Wednesday that it has been cooperating with the CDC and the Food & Drug Administration in their investigation. The company also noted that it had received no customer complaints or reports of customer infections.
“As of today, we are not aware of any testing that definitively links the Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak to EzriCare Artificial Tears,” the company claimed. “Nonetheless, we immediately took action to stop any further distribution or sale of EzriCare Artificial Tears.”
The company also announced that it would warn consumers to discontinue the use of the product for the sake of caution while the investigation continues.
Looks like people best go back to rinsing their eyes with warm salt water.