An ongoing Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak linked to contaminated eye drops includes fatalities. What is Pseudomonas aeruginosa and how often do infections from this bacteria prove fatal?
What is Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Who is Most at Risk?
Like other bacteria, Pseudomonas exists in the environment and is found in soil and water. Exposure to contaminated water or dirt can cause illness. But Pseudomonas sets itself apart from other bacteria with its ability to mutate to build resistance to antibiotics.
In healthcare settings, antibiotic-resistant strains, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, can spread disease through contact with contaminated surfaces and equipment. In post-surgical patients, infections can occur in the blood, lungs, and other parts of the body. Patients at elevated risk include those:
- on ventilators
- with catheters
- with burn injuries
- with surgical wounds
How Common are Pseudomonas aeruginosa Deaths?
Because some types of Pseudomonas aeruginosa are resistant to treatment from nearly all antibiotics, about 8 percent of all cases are fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, 32,600 hospitalized patients developed infections from multi-drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains and 2,700 of them died.
A 2020 study of Pseudomonas aeruginosa blood infections in China found a fatality rate of 28 percent.
EzriCare and Delsam Pharma Artificial Tears VIM-GES-CRPA Bacteria Outbreak
One multidrug-resistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is called VIM‐GES‐CRPA (Verona Integron‐mediated Metallo‐β‐lactamase and Guiana‐Extended Spectrum‐β‐Lactamase ‐producing carbapenem‐resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.)
VIM‐GES‐CRPA is often spread in healthcare settings and more than half the illnesses in this ongoing outbreak have occurred in four healthcare facility-related clusters.
The current 16-state VIM-GES-CRPA bacteria outbreak, linked to EzriCare and Delsam Pharma artificial tears, includes at least 68 illnesses and three fatalities. Eight of these patients have suffered permanent vision loss, and four have undergone the surgical removal of an eyeball.
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