From the September 2016 issue of Drovers.

As grass seeds out with the changing season, pink eye (Moraxella bovis) will be more prevalent in pasture cattle. The bacterial infection can spread fast, says Ronald Trett, The Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation, causing temporary vision damage and even permanent blindness if not detected early. It is also highly contagious, spread through eye secretions by flies or direct contact.

“Pink eye can reduce feed intake, weaning weights and milk production, all of which can lead to financial losses,” he says. “Infection rates can change from 1% or 2% up to 80% of the herd at the peak infection rate.”

According to A.J. Tarpoff, Kansas State University research and Extension beef veterinarian, producers should compare symptoms to if they themselves were poked in the eye, with increased tear production and squinting as first obvious signs. As the condition worsens, an ulcer will develop in the center of the eye.

The go-to treatment is the use of injectable oxytetracycline. “It still has a very good level of effectiveness however, by working through a veterinarian he or she may be able to take samples if a producer is experiencing a large outbreak,”
Tarpoff adds. “There may be different bugs in the eye that may need a different type of treatment.”

Once treatment has been applied, a patch should be glued over the eye to prevent further irritation by sunlight, grass and flies.