The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multi-state outbreak of an “extensively drug-resistant” rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria that has left three people dead and four in need of having their eyeballs removed.
Victims contracted the superbug after using contaminated Artificial Tears eyedrops sold over-the-counter nationwide at such drug stores as Target and CVS and online at Amazon.
According to the CDC, this particular strain “had never been reported in the United States prior to this outbreak.”
“At this time, CDC and FDA recommend clinicians and patients stop using EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears products pending additional guidance from CDC and FDA,” the agency reports.
The agencies began sounding the alarm bells last month.
On Feb. 2, the FDA and Global Pharma Healthcare, manufacturer of Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops, announced, “Global Pharma Healthcare is voluntarily recalling all lots within expiry of their Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops, distributed by /EzriCare, LLC- and Delsam Pharma, to the consumer level, due to possible contamination.”
Global Pharma Healthcare Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops Due to Possible Contamination https://t.co/e5xmXv4DP8 pic.twitter.com/tahNitvQKL
— U.S. FDA Recalls (@FDArecalls) February 3, 2023
Days later, the CDC posted a warning on Twitter: “If you have EzriCare or Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears Products, stop using them and seek medical care immediately if symptoms of an eye infection occur.”
🚨 Multistate Outbreak: Infections Associated with Artificial Tears Products. If you have EzriCare or Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears Products, stop using them and seek medical care immediately if symptoms of an eye infection occur. Learn more: https://t.co/qzeGLW1QF1 pic.twitter.com/7i9BCLZgMd
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 6, 2023
In its latest update posted this week, the CDC reported:
As of March 14, 2023, CDC, in partnership with state and local health departments, identified 68 patients in 16 states (CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, NC, NJ, NM, NY, NV, PA, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI) with VIM-GES-CRPA, a rare strain of extensively drug-resistant P. aeruginosa. Thirty-seven patients were linked to four healthcare facility clusters. Three people have died and there have been 8 reports of vision loss and 4 reports of enucleation (surgical removal of eyeball). Dates of specimen collection were from May 2022 to February 2023.
Of the more than 10 brands of artificial tears patients reported using, “EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free, over-the-counter product packaged in multidose bottles, was the brand most commonly reported,” according to the CDC. “This was the only common artificial tears product identified across the four healthcare facility clusters.”
“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,” the agency states.
Symptoms of 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.
Those who have used the drops but are not symptomatic do not need to be tested, the CDC reports.
“The recalled drops were manufactured by Global Pharma Healthcare in India, where the bacteria – Pseudomonas aeruginosa – is commonly linked to outbreaks in hospitals,” according to the Daily Mail. “It can spread through contaminated hands or medical equipment.”
Meanwhile, the CDC is also warning of a potentially deadly fungus — Candida auris or C — typically found in settings such as long-term care facilities and hospitals.
“Cases have soared nearly 200%, from 476 cases in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021 — and those cases were detected in over half of U.S. states, the CDC report found,” Fox News Digital reports.
“Candida auris is a strain of yeast that has been found in hospital settings,” Dr. Frederick Davis, the associate chair of Emergency Medicine at Northwell Health on Long Island New York, told the outlet.
As with the bacteria found in the eyedrops, “many recent cases have been found to be resistant to commonly used medications to treat infection and in the limited number of cases have had a 30% to 60% mortality rate,” according to the doctor, who added, “in chronically ill patients in health care facilities, it can enter the bloodstream through areas of open wound and lead to a symptomatic infection.”
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