Pinkeye in cattle
Guy Sheppard, DVM
Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) or pinkeye can be very problematic at times in cattle herds. It is manifested as an inflammation/infection of the cornea and conjunctiva of one or both eyes in affected cattle. Signs range from mild to severe and are characterized by blepharospasm, epiphora, and discoloration of the cornea. Cattle suffering from severe cases may display photophobia, intense blepharospasm, and corneal ulceration.
A number of pathogens are involved in the syndrome, but an infection with Moraxella bovis is usually a major part of the infection. Mycoplasma spp., Moraxella bovoculi, and respiratory viruses may also be factors.
Affected animals should be separated from non-infected animals as flies and other vectors can help spread the infection to other cattle. Young animals are most often affected, with dust and shipping causing exacerbation of the condition. Treatment of the condition with antibiotics can be very helpful in the early stages of the condition, but corneal ulcers that progress to complete penetration of the cornea are likely to remain permanently blind in the affected eye.
Tests performed at TVMDL that can help with diagnosis are cultures and sensitivity as well as PCR testing for Mycoplasma spp. and IBR. Prevention is aimed at controlling flies and providing uncrowded shady areas for the cattle. Commercial vaccines are available and can be helpful in problem herds.
For more information on testing cattle for pinkeye, contact one of TVMDL’s laboratories in College Station or Canyon.
Carr, M.N. and Occhipinti, L.P., Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Ruminant; Scott R.R. Haskell, DVM, editor. 2008 pgs. 450-453.