Eye drops that were contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria have killed a fourth person and caused dozens of infections nationwide, according to an update on May 15 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
At least 81 infections in 18 states are now linked to the eye drops, which were sold at Walmart and other stores under the brand-names EzriCare Artificial Tears, Delsam Pharma Eye Ointment, and Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears.
The CDC said that 14 patients lost their vision due to the infection. Another 4 people needed surgery to remove their infected eyeball.
Tragically, 4 people died when the infection did not respond to antibiotics and spread from their eyes into their bloodstream.
The CDC added that several victims were residents of long-term care facilities where clusters of infections appeared, likely due to the bacteria spreading from person-to-person or touching common items.
All of the victims were infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a highly drug-resistant bacteria that is common in India, where the eye drops were made, but it had never before been identified in the U.S. until this outbreak.
FDA inspectors visited Global Pharma Healthcare in India last month and found numerous safety violations, including a “manufacturing process that lacked assurance of product sterility” for products that were shipped to the U.S.
Health officials are urging consumers to check their eye drops and stop using the recalled products immediately.
The CDC also reminded people to be vigilant for symptoms of an infection, including eye discharge (yellow, green or clear), eye pain or discomfort, redness of the eye or eyelid, feeling like something is in the eye, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision.