The outbreak, which has involved at least 55 people in 12 states, is particularly alarming because the bacteria causing it are resistant to standard antibiotics.
NEW YORK — U.S. health officials said Thursday that a company is recalling its over-the-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health alert this week saying the outbreak has affected at least 55 people in 12 states. One died and at least five lost their sight.
Infections, including some found in the blood, urine and lungs, have been linked to EzriCare artificial tears. Many said they used the product, which is a lubricant used to treat irritation and dryness.
The eye drops are sold under the name EzriCare and are manufactured in India by Global Pharma Healthcare. The Food and Drug Administration said the company recalled expired batches of EzriCare artificial tears and another product, Delsam Pharma artificial tears.
The FDA recommended the recall based on manufacturing issues, including a lack of testing and proper packaging controls. The agency also blocked imports into the United States.
The infections were caused by a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Investigators found it in open bottles of EzriCare, but further testing was ongoing.
EzriCare, the company that sells the eye drops in the US, said it knew of no evidence definitively linking the outbreak to the product, but that it had stopped distributing the eye drops. It also has a message on it site urging consumers to stop using the product.
The infections were diagnosed in patients in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. A man in Washington died of a blood infection.
The outbreak is considered particularly alarming because the bacteria causing it are resistant to standard antibiotics.
The researchers found that the bacteria were not sensitive to any antibiotics routinely tested in public health laboratories. However, a newer antibiotic called cefideracol seems to have worked.
How can eye drops cause blood or lung infections? The eye is connected to the nasal cavity through the lacrimal ducts. Bacteria can travel from the nasal cavity to the lungs. Also, bacteria in these parts of the body can cause infections elsewhere, such as in the blood or wounds, CDC officials said.
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