MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Washington resident dies from infection linked to retail eye drops

Feb 2, 2023, 3:50 PM | Updated: Apr 13, 2023, 9:57 am

eye drops...

(Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

(Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A person from Washington state has died from an infection linked to a brand of over-the-counter eye drops contaminated with bacteria.

UW Associate Professor and practicing ophthalmologist Courtney Francis, M.D., told KIRO Newsradio the person who died lived in King County, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Additional details about the person have not been released.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching an investigation into bacterial contamination of multiple brands of eye drops, which are being linked to at least 55 infections in 12 states and have led to instances of permanent vision loss and hospitalization, in addition to the one reported death in Washington.

Plan to house sex offenders in Tenino on pause amid public outcry

The CDC said the majority of the reported infections are linked to “EzriCare Artificial Tears,” but the contamination could be connected to more than 10 other brands. These eye drops are preservative-free, meaning they don’t have ingredients to prevent bacterial growth.

The bacteria, identified as Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, is often found outdoors, particularly in water and soil, and can infect eyes, lungs, and blood, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

“Pseudomonas is a very common bacteria, especially in patients with contact lenses,” Francis said. “But this particular strain of Pseudomonas is much more rare in that it is resistant to a number of antibiotics that are usually used to treat the infection.”

Francis is also the president of the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.

The CDC received reports of infections of the cornea, intraocular fluids, respiratory tract, and urinary tract, in addition to reports of sepsis.

The bacteria in the open bottles could have come from contamination either during use or during the manufacturing process, the CDC said. Testing of unopened bottles is ongoing.

After learning about the investigation on Jan. 20, the company “immediately took action to stop any further distribution or sale of EzriCare Artificial Tears,” EzriCare wrote in an official statement. “To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product.”

The eye drops are made in India, and the company understands the same product is also marketed under other brand names. The manufacturer, Global Pharma Healthcare PVT Limited, is working on a recall with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to EzriCare.

More from Kathryn Stone: Oregon kidnapping suspect dead after being taken into custody

The CDC urges anyone using the eye drops to throw them out immediately and contact a health provider if they have any 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.

The Washington State Department of Health is expected to release more details later today on the person who died.

MyNorthwest News

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

41 minutes ago

Image: Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloo...

Associated Press

Unanimous Supreme Court preserves access to widely used abortion medication

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to an abortion medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of U.S. procedures.

2 hours ago

starbucks supreme court...

Associated Press

Supreme Court, siding with Starbucks, makes it harder for NLRB to win court orders in labor disputes

The Supreme Court case began in February 2022, when Starbucks fired seven workers who were trying to unionize their Tennessee store.

3 hours ago

seattle FBI...

Frank Sumrall

SWAT arrests armed woman after she barricades herself inside Seattle FBI building

An armed woman barricaded herself in the visitor lobby of the FBI Seattle building in downtown Seattle Wednesday afternoon.

6 hours ago

windshield hammer...

Frank Sumrall

Customer threats cause Seattle barista to smash customer’s windshield with hammer

A barista in South Seattle used a hammer to bash in a customer’s windshield after he allegedly threatened her and the coffee stand's customers.

7 hours ago

uw president cauce...

Frank Sumrall

UW President Ana Mari Cauce to step down after 10 years

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will step down from leading the university once her second five-year term ends in June 2025.

1 day ago

Washington resident dies from infection linked to retail eye drops