NEW YORK >> US health officials are advising people to stop using over-the-counter eye drops linked to outbreaks of drug-resistant infections.
On Wednesday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a health alert to doctors, saying the outbreak included at least 55 people in 12 states, with one death.
Disease researchers have linked infections, including those found in the blood, urine and lungs, to EzriCare artificial tears. Many of our patients say they have used products that are lubricants used to treat inflammation and dryness.
All infections were caused by a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Investigators detected that type of bacteria in an open EzriCare bottle, but more tests were underway to see if the strains matched.
EzriCare said it was unaware of any evidence linking the product to the outbreak, but said it had stopped distributing the eye drops. The company also posted a notice on its website urging consumers to stop using the drops.
“Where possible, we are reaching out to our customers and encouraging them to continue using our products. I have indicated that I am willing to cooperate with
Two weeks ago, the CDC warned health professional groups about a possible link between eye drops and infections. Wednesday’s alert was a broader, more general alert.
Infections were diagnosed in patients from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Her one patient in Washington died of a blood infection. At least five of her others suffered permanent visual impairment.
This outbreak is considered of particular concern because the bacteria that cause it are resistant to standard antibiotics.
Investigators found that the bacteria were not affected by antibiotics routinely tested by public health laboratories.
How can eye drops cause infections in the blood and lungs? Eyes are connected to the nasal cavity through tear ducts. Bacteria can move from the nasal passages to the lungs. Bacteria in these parts of the body can also cause infections in other areas, such as blood and wounds, CDC officials say.
According to EzriCare, the product is manufactured in India by Global Pharma Healthcare Pvt Ltd.