Today’s Infectious Disease News (2/3/23)

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Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Possibly Linked to Brand of Artificial Tears

The CDC has confirmed 55 people with Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in New Jersey and 11 other states. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium that does not respond to most antibiotics, meaning physicians have limited treatment options. Eleven of the effected individuals had eye infections, three of whom became blind in one eye. Other patients suffered urinary tract or respiratory infections, and one person died after the bacterium reached their bloodstream.

Three-quarters of patients reported that they used artificial tears before they developed infections, and the vast majority of people who remembered the brand of eye drops said they took preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears. Because the eyedrops are preservative free, they do not contain any chemicals to stop bacterial growth. The product may have been tainted during the manufacturing process. Health officials identified the bacteria in bottles of the eyedrops and is testing to determine whether it matches the strain causing the outbreak.

The CDC has not ruled out an alternative cause of the infections, such as the patients having pre-existing eye conditions which would have made them more vulnerable to the bacteria. Infections are most commonly seen in hospitals with immunocompromised patients. Pseudomonas aeruginosa are prevalent soil and water and can live on the human hand. A person with the bacteria on their skin could potentially transfer it to the eye drops when they open the product. While the investigation continues, the CDC warns people to avoid using the eyedrops. The manufacturer recalled the product this week.

Full Story: NBC News