The CDC warns against using the brand of eye drops as it investigates deaths and infections in 11 states
(NEXSTAR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking people to stop using a brand of artificial tears that may be the cause of dozens of infections across the U.S.
The CDC says laboratory and epidemiological evidence has linked the use of EzriCare artificial tears to a cluster of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cases in several states, but the investigation is ongoing and there is no definitive link yet.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria live in the environment, are highly resistant to antibiotics and can cause infections of the blood, lungs (pneumonia) and other parts of the body. These cases occur often after surgery.
The CDC is investigating at least 50 cases in 11 states that have resulted in hospitalization, permanent vision loss and even one death. The cases are located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Working to determine the cause of the disease, CDC researchers found that most people use artificial tears, with EzriCare being the most popular brand. Investigators identified drug-resistant bacteria in the opened drop bottles, the CDC said. Testing of closed bottles is ongoing.
“The CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare artificial tears until the epidemiologic investigation and laboratory analyzes are complete,” according to one dated Jan. 20. news.
EzriCare said in a statement Wednesday that it was not aware of any testing definitively linking the eye drops to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but said it had stopped selling the product.
“We have contacted customers as much as possible to advise them against further use of the product,” the company said in the statement on its website. “We immediately reached out to both the CDC and the FDA and expressed our willingness to cooperate with any requests they may have from us.”
A 2019 report found that 2,700 people in the US died from Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection and another 32,600 were hospitalized.