MANHATTAN, Kan. - It shows up every year and to the unlucky cattle that
contract it, Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), more
commonly called pinkeye, is incredibly painful and if left untreated,
can lead to loss of the eye, a Kansas State University veterinarian
said.

"Pinkeye is usually caused by the bacteria Moraxella
bovis," said K-State Research and Extension veterinarian Larry Hollis.
"However, we´ve found that in many cases - especially the extremely
difficult cases - another bacteria, either Branhamella ovis or
Mycoplasma bovoculi, is also present."

The disease is spread by
flies, said Hollis, which means that good fly control around cattle
production areas should always be a priority.

In its early
stages, pinkeye is usually easier to treat, he said. The disease can
accelerate rapidly, however, and if not treated aggressively can lead
to damage to the eye or complete loss of the eye.

"It is painful
as all get-out," said Hollis, who added that cattle with an active case
of pinkeye or those with permanent damage are discounted at sale time.
"Watch or animals that are producing an unusual amount of tears
(discharge) that show up on the face," he said, adding that "there will
always be a carrier animal in the
vicinity - either in your herd or one down the road."

Those
who suspect pinkeye should look into the eye closely for any ulceration
on the cornea. In extreme cases the cornea will appear white because of
pus buildup inside the eye.

Cattle with pinkeye are extremely sensitive to light - even on a cloudy day.

"If
you´re got a few cattle that are hanging back in the shade while the
rest go out to graze, even on days with cloud cover, you very well may
have a pinkeye problem," the veterinarian said.

Pinkeye is
often at its worst in late summer and early fall because the fly
population has had time to build through the summer, he added.

Also,
pasture grasses are tall this time of year and can irritate cattle´s
eyes as they graze. Once an animal´s eye starts tearing in response to
irritants, flies are attracted to the discharge, some of which may be
carrying the Moraxella bovis bacteria.

"Tears are like a magnet for flies," Hollis said.

Oxytetracycline
is often effective in treating individual animals with pinkeye, he
added, but he encourages producers to call their veterinarian about the
best treatment options.

Source: Kansas State University Research and Extension