Contaminated eye drops have been linked to an increased number of deaths, with reports of vision loss from 14 individuals.
An outbreak associated with contaminated eye drops has claimed another life, and more individuals are reporting vision loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update on Friday, initially reported by ABC News, revealing that the death toll has now reached four. While one death occurred in Washington state, no information regarding the other victims was provided by the CDC.
In addition, the number of people who have experienced blindness has risen to 14, compared to eight reported during the previous update in March. However, the number of individuals requiring surgical removal of their eyeballs has remained unchanged.
Affected patients reported using various brands of artificial tears, but the majority of cases have been linked to EzriCare and Delsam Pharma eye drops, manufactured by India-based Global Pharma Healthcare.
The CDC has determined that the eye drops were contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a highly aggressive bacterium.
Infections typically occur in healthcare settings and spread due to improper hygiene practices, such as inadequate handwashing or insufficient cleaning of medical equipment and surfaces.
According to the CDC, P. aeruginosa is resistant to multiple antibiotics and has caused around 32,600 infections and an estimated 2,700 deaths among hospitalized patients in the United States.
However, the specific strain associated with this outbreak had not been previously reported in the country, according to the CDC’s update.
As of May 15, there have been 81 reported cases of P. aeruginosa infection across 18 states, an increase of 13 patients since the last update.
Symptoms of the infection include yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye, eye pain or discomfort, red eyes or eyelids, a sensation of something in the eye, heightened sensitivity to light, and blurry vision.
In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning, supported by the CDC, advising healthcare providers and the public against purchasing EzriCare Artificial Tears or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears due to potential bacterial contamination.
Subsequently, Global Pharma Healthcare voluntarily recalled both products, notifying distributors and instructing wholesalers, retailers, and customers who possessed these products to discontinue usage. Global Health Pharma also recalled Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Ointment.
The CDC and FDA are cautioning individuals who still have these brands to immediately cease use and dispose of them. None of the products appear to be available for purchase online.
Among the 13 newly reported cases to the CDC, six individuals had specimens collected prior to the February recall.
Janice Haney Carr with the CDC via AP “The confirmation of these cases occurred after the recall date, as testing takes time to confirm the outbreak strain and due to retrospective reporting of infections,” stated the CDC in its update.
Out of the seven patients with specimens collected after the recall, they either resided in long-term care facilities with other known cases or were using a recalled brand of artificial tears.
In ongoing monitoring and investigation, the CDC and FDA are working diligently to contain the outbreak and prevent further harm. They urge healthcare providers and the public to remain vigilant and adhere to the recall notices.
Efforts are underway to raise awareness about the risks associated with contaminated eye drops and the importance of using safe and reliable products. Public health campaigns are being initiated to educate individuals on proper hygiene practices and the significance of regular handwashing.
Healthcare facilities are implementing rigorous infection control measures to minimize the spread of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other resistant bacteria. Thorough cleaning and disinfection protocols are being reinforced, and healthcare workers are being trained on proper hand hygiene techniques.
Furthermore, the CDC and FDA are collaborating with manufacturers, distributors, and regulatory authorities to strengthen safety standards and ensure the quality and integrity of eye care products. Enhanced surveillance systems are being implemented to detect and respond to potential outbreaks promptly.
Individuals who experience symptoms such as eye discharge, pain, redness, or vision problems are encouraged to seek medical attention promptly. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help mitigate the severity of the infection and prevent complications.
As investigations into this outbreak continue, it serves as a stark reminder of the critical role that quality control, hygiene practices, and regulatory oversight play in safeguarding public health. The CDC and FDA remain committed to protecting the well-being of individuals and will continue to provide updates and guidance as new information emerges.
It is essential for individuals to stay informed and follow the recommendations of public health agencies to prevent the spread of infections and protect their ocular health. By exercising caution, using approved products, and practicing good hygiene, we can collectively work towards ensuring the safety of eye care treatments and preventing future outbreaks.
If you or a loved one have been affected by the contaminated eye drops outbreak and believe you may have grounds for a legal claim, we encourage you to seek professional legal assistance. Parker Waichman LLP is a reputable law firm experienced in handling product liability cases.
To discuss your situation and explore your legal options, you can contact Parker Waichman LLP by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-YOU-LAWYER (1-800-968-5299). Their team of dedicated attorneys is available to provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.
Remember, time may be limited to take legal action, so don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation to understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
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