The death toll from an outbreak linked to contaminated recalled eye drops has risen and more people are losing their sight. According to an update released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death toll has risen from one – which occurred in Washington state – to three. In addition, eight people lost their sight and four others had their eyes gouged out. The CDC did not provide any information in its update about the affected patients, including names, ages, genders or place of residence.
More than 10 separate brands of fake tears have been recalled. Most of the cases have been linked to EzriCare and Delsam Pharma eye drops, made by India-based Global Pharma Healthcare.
The CDC reports that a strain of the antibiotic-resistant bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been found in the eye drops. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common Pseudomonas species to cause infections in humans. The infection is prevalent in healthcare settings and is spread by poor hygiene, either due to dirty hands or improperly cleaned medical equipment and surfaces.
According to the CDC, P. aeruginosa is resistant to various classes of drugs, has caused 32,600 infections and approximately 2,700 deaths in US hospitals. The strain that has been linked to the outbreak, however, had never been reported in the United States before, the CDC said in its update.
As of March 14, 68 people in 16 states had P. aeruginosa. There is evidence linking 37 of these cases to four different health facilities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told ABC News that the outbreak strain was found in bottles of EzriCare artificial tears obtained in two states after testing the opened product. “Testing of unopened products to assess intrinsic contamination is ongoing by [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration].”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint warning last month advising against the use of EzriCare artificial tears and Delsam Pharma artificial tears due to risks of bacterial contamination.
Following the warning, Global Pharma Healthcare announced a voluntary recall of both products, alerting distributors and recommending that wholesalers, retailers and customers who owned the products stop using them.
Shortly after, the FDA also asked Global Pharma to recall Delsam Pharma’s artificial eye ointment, which the company agreed to. So again, no reports of infections have been linked to this product.
The CDC has issued a warning to anyone who has used EzriCare or Delsam Pharma eye drops and is currently showing symptoms of an eye infection. These symptoms include yellow, green, or clear eye discharge; eye pain or discomfort; red eyes or eyelids; sensation of something in the eyes; increased sensitivity to light; and blurred vision.
“The search for more cases and the collection of additional data on the clinical course and outcomes of our patients continues. We update cases when state health departments report them to us,” the President warned. CDC.
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