Pinkeye In Beef Cattle

This article is part of Catlett Animal Hospital’s new series of in-depth information on specific diseases and conditions!

Pinkeye, also known as Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), is a disease caused by the bacteria Moraxella bovis and can cause severe lesions on the eyes of cattle. The disease can include corneal ulcers and blindness, which can lead to a significant decrease in calf weight gain and cause calves to be discounted at the sale barn.

cattlepinkeye

Photo from VA Co-Op Ext – Stage 2 pinkeye

What causes Pinkeye?

Pinkeye is frequently caused by irritation to the eye, which could include:

  •  Face flies
  •  Sunlight
  •  Grass
  •  Bacterial infections
  •  Viral infections (IBR)
  •  Nutritional deficits

What are commons signs of Pinkeye?

Your cattle may show some of the following signs of pinkeye – as soon as you are suspicious, it’s important to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment!

  • Squinting of the eye
  • Watering of the eye
  • Small gray spot in center of eye
  • The whole eyeball may become cloudy
  • Redness on the cornea (clear part of the eye)
  • Corneal ulcers will appear dished out, while white spots may appear in the middle of the eye
  • The eye may eventually rupture

How do I prevent Pinkeye?

  •  Control flies
    •  Fly tags (in both eyes of calves)
    •  Mineral containing IGR
  •  Pasture management
  •  Avoidance of sunlight and irritation
  •  Pinkeye vaccine may be available, but should be discussed with a veterinarian, as it may not be effective or appropriate in every case

How is Pinkeye treated when it occurs?

  •  Protect the eye during healing
    • Patches
    • Shade
    • Temporary tarsorrhaphy (sewing the eyelid shut to protect the eye) – can be performed by your veterinarian. Good for severe cases and eyes that may be in danger of rupturing.
  • Injectible oxytetracycline: best if given early in the course of disease
  • Subconjunctival penicillin injections
  • Have a whole-herd outbreak?
    • Move pastures if cattle are in tall grass
    • Fly spray to remove all flies
    • Treat whole herd with long-duration antibiotics

Further reading from Virginia Cooperative Extension – http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-750/400-750.html

Be sure to contact our Catlett Animal Hospital Large Animal Service veterinarians if you have questions about Pinkeye in your animals, or with any other questions. They are eager to be of service in any way possible!

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