(NEXSTAR) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking people to stop using a brand of artificial tears that could be the source of dozens of infections across the United States eye drops
The CDC says laboratory and epidemiological evidence has linked the use of EzriCare artificial tears to a multi-state group of patients with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but the investigation is ongoing and there is no definitive link yet. .
Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria live in the environment, are very resistant to antibiotics and can cause infections in the blood, lungs (pneumonia) and other parts of the body. Often these cases occur after surgery.
The CDC is investigating at least 50 cases in 11 states that have resulted in hospitalization, permanent vision loss and even death. The cases are located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington.
While working to determine the cause of the illnesses, CDC investigators found that the majority of people were using artificial tears, with EzriCare being the most popular brand.
Investigators identified the drug-resistant bacteria in open vials of drops, the CDC said. Sealed bottle testing is ongoing.
“The CDC recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue use of EzriCare artificial tears until epidemiological investigation and laboratory testing are complete,” according to a Jan. 20 press release.
EzriCare said in a statement Wednesday that they were not aware of any tests definitively linking the eye drops to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but said they had stopped selling the product.
“Where possible, we have reached out to customers to advise them against continuing to use the product, the company said in a statement posted on its website. “
We also immediately contacted the CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they may have of us.”
A 2019 report found that 2,700 people in the United States died from Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections and another 32,600 were hospitalized.