A pinkeye outbreak in your cowherd can ruin your summer. If intervention becomes necessary to save the eye or reduce discomfort, follow these tips to make sure you don't become a carrier source of infection.

* "When treating a cow or calf with evidence of an eye problem, determine if the problem is caused by a foreign object in the eye or if it is a pinkeye infection," says John Maas, extension veterinarian at the University of California-Davis. "If the ulcer is in the center of the eye, then it is probably pinkeye. If the ulcerated area is off to one side, then it could be a foreign body in the eye such as a sticker. And sometimes it can just be an injury."

* If you think it's a foreign body and you go fishing for it, use disposable latex gloves when examining potential candidates for pinkeye, suggests Dr. Maas. "If the pinkeye bacteria gets onto your hand, you will become a giant face fly and the source of new infection for other cattle you contact."

* Touching an infected animal's eye is not the only way to contract the bacteria on your hands or tools. The pathogen can be transmitted from secretions around the nose and onto clothing. Consider changing clothing after treating sick animals before working with other animals.

* Keep a flashlight or pen light handy in hospital facilities. A bright light source is important for examining the eye.

* Once a cow or calf is treated, conduct follow-up treatments and determine if the treatment is working. Keep records of treatments and drug use. Without records measuring successful treatments is difficult.