The CDC has urged patients and physicians to discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears, a brand of eyedrops that was recently confirmed to have caused over fifty cases of ocular infection, permanent vision loss, and one death in an outbreak across eleven states. “CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete,” a preliminary report (published on January 20th), read. According to the CDC, infected individuals have reported infections of the cornea, intraocular fluids, respiratory and urinary tracts, as well as sepsis-induced death.
From its outset, the outbreak was linked to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a highly drug-resistant bacterial strain. P. aeruginosa, a ubiquitous bacterium, is commonly found in the environment, particularly in soil and freshwater. The pathogen is also found in public healthcare settings and can be spread through contaminated medical instruments and unwashed hands. In the scientific literature, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is known for its pathogenicity, aggressive resistance to antibiotics, and incitement of microbial infections—particularly among hospitalized and immunocompromised patients.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the CDC revealed that a majority of patients who had tested positive for P. aeruginosa reported using EzriCare Artificial Tears prior to the onset of infection. Indeed, further research led to the identification of a similar microbial in opened EzriCare bottles that were collected from two of the eleven affected states. Even so, EzriCare Artificial Tears had yet to be confirmed as the primary causative agent in these infections. “Testing of unopened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears is ongoing,” the CDC reported at the time, warning consumers to altogether refrain from using the product until further notice.
After comparing microbial isolates of open EzriCare bottles with bacterial samples obtained from infected patients, however, the CDC went on to confirm the product’s causative role in cases of infection. Indeed, product-related strains of drug-resistant P. aeruginosa, the agency reported in a health advisory statement published on February 1st, “match the outbreak strain.” Microbial specimens “recovered from opened bottles could represent either bacterial contamination during use or during the manufacturing process,” authorities concluded. In light of these recent reports, “Global Pharma Healthcare is recalling its Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops due to potential contamination,” the FDA announced last Thursday.
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