NEW YORK — Thursday, U.S. health officials announced that a company is recalling its over-the-counter eye drops because they are linked to an outbreak of infections that are resistant to drugs.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a health alert to doctors saying that at least 55 people in 12 states were affected by the outbreak. One person died, and at least five others lost their sight for good.
The infections were linked to EzriCare Artificial Tears. Some of the infections were found in the blood, urine, and lungs. Many people said they had used the product, which is a lubricant that is used to treat dryness and irritation.
Global Pharma Healthcare makes the eye drops in India and sells them under the name EzriCare. The Food and Drug Administration said that the company recalled lots of EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears that had not yet expired.
The FDA suggested the recall because of problems with the way the product was made, such as a lack of testing and proper packaging controls. The agency also stopped the goods from coming into the US.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa was the bacteria that caused the infections. Investigators found the outbreak strain in EzriCare bottles that had been opened.
The company that sells the eye drops in the U.S., EzriCare, said that it has stopped selling them. On its website, there is also a notice telling people to stop using the product.
People in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin have been found to have infections. A blood infection killed a person in Washington.
People are worried about the outbreak because the bacteria that are causing it are resistant to most antibiotics.
Investigators found that the bacteria did not respond to any of the antibiotics that are usually tested at public health labs. But cefiderocol, a newer antibiotic, seemed to work.
How could eye drops cause blood or lung infections? Through the tear ducts, the eye is linked to the nose. Bacteria can make their way from the nose to the lungs. Also, CDC officials say that bacteria in these areas can spread infections to other parts of the body, like the blood or wounds.