Dealing With Pinkeye in Cattle
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July 13, 2022
This is Damon Pollard, Livestock agent with The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-Burke center. Today’s topic is Dealing with Pinkeye.
Pinkeye or infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis was first diagnosed in 1889, and remains an economically important disease in cattle today. Caused by the bacterium, Moraxella bovis, with the source the eyes of carrier cattle. The carriers do not necessarily exhibit symptoms but serve as the source of bacteria for the rest of the herd. Face flies are the most prominent vector in the spread of pinkeye. The greater amount of face flies, the higher the risk of pinkeye. Calves are more likely to be infected than adults. Calves born to heifers have more problems than those born to mature cows. Weather conditions may affect the amount of ultraviolet light the animal’s eyes are exposed to. Summer and fall are the height of infection, due to increased light intensity and fly populations. Wind, dust and pollen irritate eyes, making pinkeye more likely. Vaccinating cattle with IBR virus or any modified live vaccine during fly season, may result in increased susceptibility to pinkeye.
Excessive tearing of the eyes and squinting to sunlight is the first sign, and when treatment should start to be most effective. Within 24 to 48 hrs an ulcer will appear, and if left untreated, severe scarring, and ultimately blindness can result.
Long acting tetracyclines are the only labeled treatments for pinkeye. One injection of this product will generally result in fast healing, however, 2 injections are better, as they reduce bacterial load in the eye, limiting the spread of bacteria. Glue on eye patches are also useful, as they protect the infected eyes from sunlight, dust and fly travel, and will fall off on their in about 10 days.
This is Damon Pollard, Livestock agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-Burke center. If you would like more information call us at 764-9480.