A fourth person has died after using contaminated eyedrops and a total of 81 people have now suffered infections from the tainted solution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The alarming update came about two months after the CDC had said three people were killed and 68 were infected from illnesses tied to over-the-counter eyedrops by EzriCare and Delsam Pharma.
The drops were first recalled in February after the product was linked to multiple infections from a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is resistant to standard antibiotics.
The CDC said all but seven of the new patients were infected before the recall date, but were still awaiting testing results to confirm the outbreak.
“Of the 7 patients who had specimens collected after the recall, most either resided in long-term care facilities with other known cases or reported use of a recalled brand of artificial tears,” the agency said.
In several cases, patients developed ulcers over their corneas, which leaked yellow-colored discharge before ultimately becoming blinded.
Fourteen people have lost some of all vision in their eyes, the CDC said.
At least another four cases were so severe that the patients required surgery to remove their eyeballs.
Opened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears used by patients were found to have the bacteria inside them shortly before the recall, but the Food and Drug Administration definitively traced the outbreak to the product after finding the bacteria inside unopened bottles of the product, according to the CDC.
Several people who’ve been infected from the drops are suing Global Pharma, the India-based manufacturer where the bacterial outbreak originated.
Cases have been reported in 18 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.