Bacteria in eye drops that have left 3 dead, 8 blind and 4 with eyeballs removed can spread from person to person

BACTERIA found in contaminated eye drops has been found to spread between people who are asymptomatic.

Eye drops sold in US pharmacies have been found to be laced with a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Deadly bacteria found in eye drops in the US have been found to be transmitted from person to person


Deadly bacteria found in eye drops in the US have been found to be transmitted from person to personPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor
EzriCare Artificial Tears has been linked to deaths, vision loss and eyeball removal


EzriCare Artificial Tears has been linked to deaths, vision loss and eyeball removal

It is a type of bacteria commonly found in soil and water and is often the cause of blood and lung infections.

Three people have died and four had to have their eyeballs removed after contracting the rare superbug.

Another eight lost vision in one or both eyes after using contaminated eye drops.

That led to US health watchdog EzriCare pulling Artificial Tears — a preservative-free, over-the-counter product made in India — off pharmacy shelves earlier this year in a bid to contain the outbreak.

But the bacterium was identified at a long-term care center in Connecticut, which borders upstate New York in the United States.

And there was evidence of spread in asymptomatic patients at the center who said the bacteria had become established in their bodies The New York Times.

Health officials are now concerned that the superdrug-resistant strain, which had not previously been found in the country, could gain a foothold in US healthcare

Pseudomonas is not only highly contagious and resistant to drugs, but also particularly difficult to eradicate, according to Dr. David van Duin, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

The bacteria cling to drains, faucets and other humid healthcare environments, he told the New York Times.

It’s also “very difficult to get rid of” in patients who develop bloodstream infections, added Dr. van Duin added.

Sixty-eight people contracted Pseudomonas aeruginosa after using eye drops including EzriCare Artificial Tears, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

While the outbreak has been largely contained by the recall of four eyedrop brands, Maroya Walters, lead investigator on the CDC’s antimicrobial resistance team, believes this won’t be the last time we see the rare superbug.

“I think we’re going to see the impact of this game over the course of months to years,” she said.

The US Food Ad Drug Administration (FDA) – which regulates over-the-counter medicines – confirmed it had failed to inspect the factory in India that makes the eye drops before infections were reported.

The agency has previously been criticized for not inspecting foreign manufacturing in China and India.

But it visited the plant between February 20 and March 3 of this year. The result test certificate brought to light a series of startling discrepancies within Global Pharma Healthcare’s manufacturing and packaging process.

“They used a manufacturing process that did not ensure product sterility,” the FDA wrote.

It found inadequate cleaning throughout the factory and significant gaps in written procedures and employee training.

Surfaces that touched packaging “were not cleaned, disinfected, decontaminated, or sterilized,” and there were gaps or discrepancies in records related to how key machinery and areas were cleaned.

An inspector also saw a “black, brown, greasy deposit” on part of one of the company’s machines used to bottle the product.

And Global Pharma Healthcare was found to have skipped key tests to verify the sterility of its products.

After a recall earlier this year, the CDC advised people to stop using EzriCare eye drops, as well as Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears – these are made by the same India-based pharmaceutical company.

It identified the 16 states where patients are infected as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The health watchdog continues to investigate the outbreaks in several states, it said last month.

And it urged patients who noticed symptoms of an eye infection after using EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s artificial tears to seek medical attention “immediately.”

According to the CDC, eye infection symptoms can include:

  • Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye
  • eye pain or discomfort
  • Redness of the eye or eyelid
  • sensation of something in the eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • blurred vision

Pseudomonas is a type of bacteria that lives in the environment and is commonly found in soil and water.

Its ultra-resistant strain, identified in the artificial tears, is often the culprit for blood and lung infections. People can also become infected with it after surgery.

It can spread in healthcare facilities when people are then exposed to water or soil containing Pseudomonas aeruginosa germs, the CDC said.

Resistant strains can also spread from one person to another in healthcare settings through contaminated hands, equipment or surfaces.

Patients in hospitals tend to be most at risk, according to the CDC, especially those:

  • on ventilators (ventilators)
  • with devices such as catheters
  • with wounds from operations or burns
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However, infection can be avoided if patients and caregivers wash their hands frequently with soap and water and if patient rooms are cleaned daily.

People who use reusable contact lenses are four times more likely to develop a vision-threatening eye infection than those who wear daily disposable lenses. Bacteria in eye drops that have left 3 dead, 8 blind and 4 with eyeballs removed can spread from person to person

Andrew Schnitker

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