Pink Eye is also known as Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) or Infectious Ovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IOK) can cause serious problems for cattle, sheep, goats and for producer’s bottom line.
Pink Eye in cattle is caused by bacteria called Morexella bovis (and uncommonly Moraxella bovoculi) being transferred by flies. In sheep and goats it is caused by Chlamydia and Mycoplasma species. These bacteria in the secretions of infected livestock survive on or in face flies for 48 to 72 hour. The flies infect other animals when the flies feed again. As flies may move as far as 6km during their lifespan spread between herds and farms is easy.
Traditionally, we associate pink eye with increased fly numbers, but it is a multifaceted disease so this is not the only time it occurs. We also see pink eye increase in areas which have high numbers of grass seeds released, paddocks with minimal shade, and herds with low immunity. Lately, some producers have been experiencing outbreaks of pink eye with only a few flies. During our drought, creeks and dams are drying up and this making the moist parts of the cows more attractive to the flies.
Early detection of eye problems is essential to minimizing the impact of Pink Eye in your stock. When assessing your animals if they are blinking a lot, you see flies irritation at the corner of their eyes, increased tears, or closing eyelids then start treating ASAP.
Management strategies can have a positive impact on Pink eye control, minimizing numbers affected and the cost of an outbreak. The top 5 steps to take to minimize your risk of pink eye are:
Once you notice eye irritation or pink eye lesions spray for flies ASAP and get quickly to the vet. The sooner we start antibiotics and get the infection under control the less stock will be impacted. Antibiotics may be topical eye medications or injectable antibiotics, the prescribed course should always be followed.