4 people now dead from contaminated eye drops, CDC says

Problems with the eye drops were first reported in January

There have now been four fatalities from the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, all linked to contaminated artificial tears that have since been recalled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the multistate outbreak.

The outbreak strain — carba penem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa with Verona integron-mediated metallo-β-lactamase and Guiana extended-spectrum-β-lactamase, or VIM-GES-CRPA — is associated with multiple types of infections, including eye infections, the Atlanta-based CDC wrote. The investigation has found many patients were exposed to the strain via EzriCare artificial tears.

The CDC and FDA recommend everyone stop using and throw out EzriCare Artificial Tears and two other products made by parent company Global Pharma: Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Ointment.

As of May 15, the CDC has identified 81 patients in 18 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Deleware, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin — with VIM-GES-CRPA.

Of those, 14 patients have experienced vision loss, four have had an eyeball surgically removed, and four have died within 30 days of VIM-GES-CRPA clinical culture collection.

Eye infection symptoms may 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 (foreign body sensation)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision