A woman is filing a lawsuit against the Walmart brand EzriCare over allegations that its artificial tear products were contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria. According to the plaintiff, Renee A. Martray, Ezricare’s product caused permanent eye vision damage, Law.com reports. 

Ms. Martay’s case joins a number of other plaintiffs who are filing lawsuits against a number of manufacturers, including Ezricare. While they have not admitted any liability, the parent company that manufactures Ezricare, Global Pharma Healthcare, has recalled their artificial tears as of February 2. 

According to the CDC, Ezricare Artificial Tears are the most common brand associated with contamination by an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria,  Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The Pseudomonas bacterium is a naturally-occurring microbe found in soil and water and is the most common cause of infections in humans. According to the CDC, there are approximately 32,600 infections among hospitalized patients, leading to 2,700 estimated deaths, as of 2019.

The CDC is working with the FDA and state health departments to investigate the multistate outbreak of drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The strain associated with the alleged Ezricare contamination is Pseudomonas aeruginosa with Verona integron-mediated metallo-β-lactamase and Guiana extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (VIM-GES-CRPA). This drug-resistant strain has never been seen before in the United States and is primarily associated with eye infections. 

As of their March 14 announcement, the CDC and its partner organizations have identified 68 patients with the VIM-GES-CRPA strain in the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Of those 68 cases, 37 were clustered in four healthcare facilities. There have been three fatalities, eight people have lost their vision, and four people have needed an eye surgically removed via enucleation.