A man in Washington state has died after using a brand of eye drops linked to a nationwide outbreak of drug-resistant bacterial infections, according to the state Department of Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the public Wednesday (February 1) about the outbreak, which has affected at least 55 people in 12 states. Many of the patients told investigators they used EzriCare Artificial Tears, which is used to treat eye irritation and dryness, before falling ill, the federal agency reported.
Investigators also detected Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in open EzriCare bottles, but they need to do further testing to see if the strains match. The microbe is known to trigger infections in the blood, urine, and lungs. The DOH confirmed the King County man died of a blood infection.
Officials said the infections have caused hospitalizations and permanent vision loss in some cases. What makes these infections even more distressing is that they're resistant to standard antibiotics. Testing also found that a newer antibiotic called cefiderocol seemed to work.
"The public is urged to stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears until further notice, and to contact their medical provider if they have concerns. Symptoms of an eye infection include pain, swelling, discharge, redness, blurry vision, sensitivity to light and the feeling of a foreign object in the eye," according to health officials.
EzriCare said they've stopped distributing the eye drops and posted a notice on their website urging consumers to stop using the over-the-counter product.
"To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product," the company wrote. "We also immediately reached out to both CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they may have of us."
Patients diagnosed with infections were reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to the CDC.