Cattle producers warned to be on guard for pinkeye

 With hot and dry weather conditions being experienced across Victoria, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is reminding cattle producers to be on  the lookout for pinkeye.

DPI District Veterinary Officer Jeff Cave said that current conditions meant the risk of pinkeye outbreak was high and farmers needed to be vigilant. 

“With summer will bring increased sunlight and dust, which can make the eye more vulnerable to the disease,” Dr Cave said. Pinkeye, or Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis, is a highly contagious, painful and debilitating disease that can severely affect animal productivity.

“Pinkeye usually occurs in young cattle in their first summer. After this initial infection, cattle develop immunity to the disease but may remain carriers of the bacteria, Moraxella bovis, which potentially can lead to future outbreaks in following years.” 

The clinical signs of pinkeye include clear and watery tears, signs of irritation, an aversion to sunlight, reddening and swelling of the eyelids and cloudiness of the eye.  
Cattle in yards

 In a small percentage of cases, an affected eye may form an abscess and rupture, leading to permanent blindness. 

 Dr Cave said while most affected eyes completely recovered after three to five weeks, a number may be left with scarring on the surface. 

 “Pinkeye can be treated with sprays, ointments, injections and patches or a combination of these treatments. Extra care should be taken when mustering  cattle for the purposes of treatment for pinkeye, as factors such as dust and flies may enhance the spread of the disease. 

 “Attention should also be taken not to confuse pinkeye with other conditions of the eye, such as a grass seed in the eye, eye cancer and other eye  infections. 

 “An outbreak of pinkeye can be prevented through vaccination three to six weeks before the onset of the pinkeye season.  

 “Other control measures include controlling fly numbers to limit the spread of bacteria from animal to animal, prompt segregation and treatment of pinkeye  in affected stock and avoiding unnecessary yarding of cattle during periods where the risk of outbreak is higher.” 

 For further advice or information contact your local veterinarian or DPI veterinary or animal health officer, or in New South Wales contact your local  Livestock Health and Pest Authority veterinary officer.

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