Concerns grow over drug-resistant bacteria tied to eye infections

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the strain of drug-resistant bacteria that has been found in eye drops and ointment imported from India, has never been found before in the U.S., the CDC said. 

Since the bacteria spreads from humans to humans, the agency is warning the bacteria "could gain a foothold in the U.S.," The New York Times reported April 3.

The CDC previously said 68 people in 16 states have reported complications after using the eye drops; there have been three deaths, eight cases of blindness and four surgeries involving removal of an eyeball and dozens of eye infections reported.

Three artificial tears products manufactured by Global Pharma Healthcare Private Limited have been recalled by the FDA. Retailers are urged by the FDA and CDC to remove these products from shelves immediately. The recalled products are  Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tears, Delsam Pharma's Artificial Eye Ointment and EzriCare's Artificial Tears. 

Maroya Walters, PhD, lead investigator for the CDC's antimicrobial resistance team, said this new strain can spread when a person touches a common item after it has been touched by a person infected with the bacteria.

Drug-resistant bugs are particularly dangerous for patients with compromised immune systems and hospital patients being treated with invasive medical devices, including breathing equipment and catheters. "I think we are going to see the impact of this play out over the course of months to years," Dr. Walters said.

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