More Deaths Linked to Superbug From Eye Drops

Users of recalled products should watch out for symptoms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2023 1:01 PM CDT
More Deaths Linked to Superbug From Eye Drops
This scanning electron microscope image shows rod-shaped Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.   (Janice Haney Carr/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

Two more Americans infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria linked to eye drops have died. The CDC, which warned against using the preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears in January following the death of a man in Washington state, said two others had died with Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections linked to eye drops. "Pseudomonas was a contributing case of death for one patient; for other two patients the role of Pseudomonas in the death is unknown," a rep says, per CBS News. Four others had their eyeballs removed and eight people lost vision. Infections have now been confirmed in 68 patients in 16 states, according to the CDC.

At least four eyedrop products have been recalled recently, though only two are linked to the rare Pseudomonas aeruginosa, per the Washington Post. They are EzriCare and Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tears, both produced by Global Pharma Healthcare. Of the three people who died, "two patients had confirmed use of EzriCare and one patient is not known to have used EzriCare, but is epidemiologically linked to patients who did," according to the CDC rep, who did not say where or when the deaths occurred. Anyone who has used EzriCare or Delsam Pharma's recalled products should seek medical attention if they experience eye pain or discomfort, redness, discharge, blurry vision, or increased sensitivity to light.

Though infected patients have reported using more than 10 brands of eye drops, experts say most should be considered safe. But they urge users to avoid contamination through proper storage and handling. The two other eye drop products (Pharmedica USA's Purely Soothing, 15% MSM Drops and Apotex's Brimonidine Tartrate Ophthalmic Solution, 0.15%) were recalled due to sterility concerns, some with cracked caps. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, only just detected in the US, appears immune to at least 12 different antibiotics, per the Independent. However, researchers at the University of California at San Diego have identified a bacteriophage that could combat it, per CBS. (More eyedrops stories.)

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