U.S. health officials are advising people to stop using over-the-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday night sent a health alert to physicians, saying the outbreak includes at least 55 people in 12 states. One died.
Disease investigators have linked the infections — including some found in blood, urine and lungs — to EzriCare Artificial Tears. Many of the patients said they had used the product, which is a lubricant used to treat irritation and dryness.
The infections were all caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Investigators detected that kind of bacteria in open EzriCare bottles, but further testing was underway to see whether the strains matched.
EzriCare said it is not aware of any evidence definitively linking the outbreak to the product but that it has stopped distributing the eye drops. It also has a notice on its website urging consumers to stop using the drops.
“To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product. We also immediately reached out to both CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they may have of us,” the company said.
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Two weeks ago, the CDC warned medical professional societies about the possible connection between the drops and the infections. The Wednesday alert was a broader, more public warning.
Infections were diagnosed in patients in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. One patient — in Washington — died with a blood infection. At least three others in California and New Jersey suffered permanent vision loss.
The outbreak is considered particularly worrisome because the bacteria driving it are resistant to standard antibiotics.
Investigators found the bacteria were not susceptible to any antibiotics routinely tested at public health laboratories. However, a newer antibiotic named cefiderocol did seem to work.
How could eye drops cause infections in the blood or lungs? The eye connects to the nasal cavity through the tear ducts. Bacteria can move from the nasal cavity into the lungs. Also, bacteria in these parts of the body can seed infections at other sites such as in the blood or wounds, CDC officials said.
Russian missiles hit residential areas in an eastern Ukrainian city Thursday for the second time in 24 hours, while top European Union officials held talks with the government in Kyiv as the war with Russia approaches its one-year milestone.
The latest strikes in Kramatorsk came as rescue crews searched for survivors in the rubble of an apartment building hit late Wednesday by a Russian missile that killed at least three people and wounded 21 others. At least one more victim was thought to be under the debris, Ukraine’s presidential office said.
“Kramatorsk again shattered by explosions — the Russians made two more rocket strikes,” regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post.
He said at least five civilians were wounded in the latest strikes, which hit residential buildings as well as a children’s clinic and a school in the heart of the city. Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko urged residents to stay in shelters.
Kramatorsk is a major hub for the Ukrainian military in the east.
No further details of Thursday’s attack were immediately available.
Russia has frequently struck apartment buildings during the war, causing civilian casualties, although the Kremlin has denied targeting residential structures.
Russian shelling across Ukraine over the previous 24 hours killed at least eight civilians and wounded 29 others, the presidential office said. Along with the victims in Kramatorsk, the toll included four people who died when a Russian mortar shell hit a basement where they were sheltering in the northeastern Chernihiv region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ahead of what officials described as a summit Friday. The last such summit was held in Kyiv in October 2021 — a few months before the war started Feb. 24, 2022.
Von der Leyen praised wartime Ukraine’s “brilliant application” for European Union membership, though Brussels officials note that Ukraine’s joining the 27-nation bloc is still a long way off.
Ahead of possible membership, Von der Leyen said, the commission is proposing that Kyiv “join key European programs. This will give Ukraine benefits close to those of EU membership in many areas.