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Pink Eye

Pinkeye or “Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis” is a common eye disease of cattle of all ages, but especially in calves.  This disease is contagious and may affect one or both eyes causing considerable pain and distress. It is usually more common in younger animals suggesting immunity may develop as cattle age. There may be significant financial loss especially if an outbreak occurs due to reduced weight gain or even loss in calves. There may also be permanent eye damage or even blindness in some animals.

Moraxella bovis is the main bacteria involved in pinkeye infections, although other organisms may affect whether the disease develops and also the severity.

For the development of pinkeye to occur, damage to the cornea (surface of the eye) must occur. This may be from UV light, dust or trauma. Flies are important vectors for spreading the disease; hence Pinkeye is more common in the months of Summer and Autumn. Often multiple animals are affected.

Cattle that develop pinkeye can present as having excessive discharge from one or both eyes, closed eyes and sensitivity to light.  The eye may develop ulcers to varying degrees depending on the duration of infection. Eyes may be oozing pus, appear reddened (hence the name) and in the worst cases, the eye may rupture.

Mild to moderate cases of pinkeye may be treated with antibiotic eye ointment available at our clinic. Below is an example of a mild case of pinkeye.

More severe cases such as the one below require veterinary treatment. Please call us if you have animals with this severity of the disease.

Steps to reduce the chance of a pinkeye outbreak include control of flies, avoiding grazing calves on long pasture, avoiding overcrowding especially in an outbreak, removing affected and treated calves from the mob. There is also a vaccine available which may be required in severe outbreaks or as a preventative measure. 

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