Pink Eye in Cattle

IBK-Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis

A painful and highly infectious eye disease which leads to temporary blindness in many animals (one or both eyes) and can lead to permanent blindness in some animals (1-2%)

Symptoms of the Disease/Condition

The primary cause is a bacteria called Morexella bovis.

The danger period is late spring and summer (Dec-March)

It occurs in cattle of all ages, sexes and types-young cattle are particularly vunerable.

There are a number of seasonal environmental factors (wind, dust, flies, stalky vegetation) and management factors (high stocking rate, poor nutrition, bringing in cattle) which can predispose cattle to an outbreak of pinkeye.

The first signs of pinkeye will be weepy eyes and an aversion to strong light.
As the disease progresses the eye becomes inflammed and develops cloudy lesions.

Cost/Impact on Herd/Farm Revenue

Pink eye is an animal welfare issue causing prolonged and serious pain.

It also imposes significant economic and production losses through:

• depressed growth rates
• loss or culling because of eye rupture and permanent blindness
• disruption to seasonal grazing management
• veterinary and labour costs to treat infected animals
• lowered sale value of animals with eye lesions (weaner cattle)

The disease may exist for 3-5 weeks in some individuals, with a peak in a mob of about 3-4 weeks.

Despite this many farmers believe Pinkeye is not a significant problem and many choose to not treat or prevent the disease and let the disease take its course.

Diagnosis is made by observation of clinical signs such as tear staining, eye squinting, eye lesions as well as microbiological culture and sensitivity of swabs obtained aseptically from infected eyes.


 vet pinkeye
 vet pink eye    vet pinkeye

Management and Control

Quick action is required to prevent the spread of Pinkeye.
Affected animals should be removed from the mob for treatment and separate grazing.

Topical and systemic antibiotic treatments can be used along with surgery such as 3rd eyelid flap or sewing the eyelids together in bad cases (veterinary procedure)

A vaccine is available which is most effective if given 2-3 weeks prior to the pink eye season. It is less effective in the face of a herd outbreak.

Contact your nearest VetEnt clinic to learn more about risk management of Pinkeye in your herd.

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