Pink Eye

Pinkeye is a highly infectious bacterial disease affecting the eyes of cattle. The disease has a significant impact on the financial health of the cattle-owner. Face flies are the chief agents of this disease which transmit the microbes causing the disease from one animal to another. If proper treatment is not taken, then pinkeye can even lead to blindness. The disease affects young calves more than adult cows or bulls.

Common Names

Pinkeye is also known as Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK). The name identifies the redness and swelling of the lining of the eyelid and eyeball. Pinkeye is one of the most common conditions affecting all breeding beef females.

Causative Organism

The bacterium which is the major cause behind Pinkeye is Moraxella bovis. Several infectious discharges from affected cattle are spread to other healthy animals by flies. A previous but mild eye infection can also lead to infection caused by Moraxella sp. An infection with the microbe allows for only temporary resistance.

Common Symptoms

  1. Heavy watery eye discharge
  2. Affected animals dislike sunlight
  3. Cattle show signs of irritation and blink excessively
  4. Reddening and enlargement of the eyelids, including the third eyelid
  5. Cattle with pinkeye keep the affected eye or eyes closed
  6. Cattle lose weight because they do not want to feed.

How it Affects Cattle

The infection occurs in the eyes and nasal cavities of infected cattle. Pinkeye secretions cause the eyes to become heavily swollen and ultimately make it difficult for cattle to open their eyes. Many animals are known to have spontaneously recovered from these stages, but the recovery rate is only 2% without any treatment. Animals that are badly affected in both of the eyes may suffer more. Milking cows are seen to produce less milk. Even mishaps may occur as the animals may not be aware of all their surroundings.

Regional Impacts

Pinkeye is known to occur at all seasons of the year. It doesn’t have any special liking for a specific breed of cattle which means any animal can be a victim. As mentioned earlier, young cattle as well as beef females are the worst sufferers. Pinkeye affects more cattle during winter than in any other season. This is partly because the animals are very close to each other for body warmth.

Risks & Dangers

Excessive weeping of the affected eye(s) and spots in the center of the cornea of the eye are major risks. If there are more spots eye-fluids may flow out, which may lead to permanent blindness. Due to lowered immunity of the body for pinkeye, careful precautions should be taken so that the disease cannot spread itself within a few years.


Latest tests confirm that pinkeye can be cured by treatment with oxytetracycline, penicillin and sulfonamides. A combination of useful drugs with perfect scheduling will help your cattle regain its size and width.

Vaccines & Prevention

Commercial and autogenic pinkeye vaccines are readily available in the market. One should always consult a veterinarian and then go for the full medication treatment for your cattle. Proper management practices as well as cleanliness exercises can prevent pinkeye. Avoid cheap grass or tall grass. Flies should be controlled to prevent the spread of the disease.

References and Resources