Officials say eye drops contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria may have caused death, blindness and the removal of eyeballs in the United States.
Some 68 patients in 16 states, ranging from New York and Washington to Texas and Florida, have been identified with a rare strain of pseudomonas aeruginosa by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Prior to the current outbreak, it had never been reported in the WE Before.
While one person has died, there have been eight reports of vision loss and four of people having had their eyes surgically removed, the CDC said.
Most infected patients reported using artificial tears.
Of more than 10 brands initially identified, the most common was the over-the-counter product EzriCare.
Laboratory tests on open bottles taken from patients were found to contain the bacteria.
Unopened bottles are currently being examined to check if contamination has occurred during manufacture.
India’s Global Pharma Healthcare, which makes the artificial tears EzriCare and Delsam Pharma, launched a product recall last month after the CDC urged people to stop using the eye drops immediately.
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A number of patients have already filed a lawsuit, including a Florida woman who claims she lost an eye after using the now recalled eye drops.
His attorney Natasha Cortes told NBC News, “It does not contain preservatives, which are used to combat bacterial contamination in these products.
“There are probably a lot more people who have had infections who don’t know it.”
Patients who have used the products and show symptoms of eye infection are advised to seek urgent medical attention.
Signs include yellow, green, or clear eye discharge, discomfort or pain, redness, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light.