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  • The CDC has issued a warning about EzriCare eye drops that have been linked to 50 infections.
  • The eye drops may be contaminated with a bacteria called Pseudomonas that’s commonly found in the environment, like in water and soil.
  • The eye drops have been linked to permanent vision loss, eye infection, and one patient died after a bloodstream infection, according to the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning against EzriCare Artificial Tears.

The eye drops, which are a preservative-free product, have been linked to at least 50 infections in 11 states.

Because preservative-free eye drops don’t contain sterilizing chemicals that can prevent bacterial growth, they run the risk of being contaminated with potentially pathogenic micro-organisms.

The infections reported in the current outbreak, which were caused by a type of bacteria called Pseudomonas, have led to permanent vision loss from ocular infection and hospitalization. One patient died from a bloodstream infection, according to officials.

To identify the infection, health providers took clinical cultures of the patients’ eyes, blood, urine, rectal swabs, sputum or bronchial, and other nonsterile sources.

The CDC is currently testing unopened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears and strongly advises people to stop using EzriCare eyedrops until the CDC completes its investigation.

“CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete,” the CDC stated.

In a statement officials from EzriCare said they had not seen testing that linked the bacteria to their eye drops, but that they were stopping distribution of the item.

“As of today, we are not aware of any testing that definitively links the Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak to EzriCare Artificial Tears. Nonetheless, we immediately took action to stop any further distribution or sale of EzriCare Artificial Tears. To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product.”

Officials are investigating if the eye drops are contaminated with a bacteria called Pseudomonas that’s commonly found in the environment, like water and soil.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and an infectious disease expert, suspects the germ contaminated the product during the manufacturing process.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of Pseudomonas that’s responsible for infections in people, is known to cause infections in the blood and the lungs.

The strain appears to be resistant to multiple types of antibiotics — carbapenem, ceftazidime and cefepime — that are typically used to treat this type of infection.

According to Adalja, this type of bacteria is particularly adept at becoming resistant to our antibiotics.

“Pseudomonas is a bacteria, well known for its ability to develop antimicrobial resistance, it could be one of the more difficult organisms to treat when it becomes resistant,” Adalja said.

In the United States, about 13% of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are caused by multi-drug resistant strains.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is most commonly spread in healthcare environments through contaminated equipment, hands, or surfaces.

The bacteria is also known to spread through public hot tubs, Jacuzzis, and pools.

Those most at-risk for contracting the infection usually include people on ventilators, those using catheters, and people with wounds from surgery or burns.

In people who are generally healthy, Pseudomonas infections are often mild.

People who are immune-compromised are more likely to develop symptoms, especially severe symptoms due to Pseudomonas infections.

Symptoms depend on where in the body the bacteria took root.

“Pseudomonas in the eye cause symptoms such as pain, redness, changes in vision, as well as destruction to the cells that allow the eyes to function appropriately,” Adalja said.

Additionally, pseudomonas infections are a well-known cause of corneal ulceration, he added.

In some cases, the bacteria can travel to the brain or the blood — which may be what happened with the patient who died.

Patients will be treated with topical antibiotics on the eye along with intravenous antibiotics, says Adalja.

If the infection is limited to the eye, then higher doses may be used to fight more resistant strains.

In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary, says Adalja.

The CDC has issued a warning against EzriCare Artificial Tears. The eye drops have been linked to at least 50 infections in 11 states. The infections were caused by a type of germ called Pseudomonas, and have led to permanent vision loss, hospitalization, and in one case, death. The CDC is urging people to stop using the eyedrops until the agency completes its investigation.