...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
The United States is grappling with an ongoing outbreak of a drug-resistant bacteria found in certain brands of eye drops, resulting in a fourth reported death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of infections has reached 81, including four fatalities and 14 cases of vision loss.
These figures have increased since March when three deaths and eight cases of vision loss were reported.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Resistant Bacteria Driving the Outbreak
The outbreak is fueled by a strain of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, known for its resistance to standard antibiotics.
Investigators have identified that most infected patients had used specific brands of eye drops, including products from EzriCare and Delsam Pharma.
Although the recalled products were linked to the outbreak, at least seven patients were diagnosed after the recall, indicating the persistence of the issue.
Concerns over EzriCare Products and Recall
EzriCare, whose products were manufactured by Global Pharma Healthcare in India and primarily sold online, released a statement in February emphasizing that there was no definitive evidence directly linking the Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak to their Artificial Tears.
Nevertheless, they took immediate action to halt distribution and sales.
After the recall, health inspectors visited the manufacturing plant in India and identified problems in the production and testing processes of the eye drops, including inadequate sterility measures.
Understanding Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a type of bacteria commonly found in the environment, such as soil and groundwater.
In humans, this bacteria can cause infections in various parts of the body, including the blood and lungs.
The CDC notes that these bacteria continually develop resistance to antibiotics, making it more challenging to treat the infections they cause.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when the bacteria no longer respond to the medications designed to eliminate them, potentially leading to multidrug-resistant strains.
Symptoms and Geographic Spread
Symptoms of the eye infections associated with the outbreak include eye pain or discomfort, eye discharge, redness, blurry vision, and increased sensitivity to light.
The outbreak has been reported in 18 states across the US, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
CDC’s Warning and Call for Medical Care
The CDC has issued a warning urging individuals who have recently used the affected products to seek immediate medical care.
It is crucial for individuals to ensure that recalled products are not present in their homes to prevent any potential future use.
Despite recalls, there is a risk that these products may remain in households and be used months or even years later, according to Maroya Spalding Walters, the leader of the CDC’s antimicrobial resistance team.