Increase in cases of pinkeye in cattle

Farmers need to keep an eye out for the early signs of pinkeye infection.

Following increasing cases of pinkeye in cattle, Local Land Services is reminding producers to keep an eye out for the early signs of the infection throughout summer. 

The bacterial infection is highly contagious in cattle, causing inflammation and sometimes ulceration of the cornea.

Sheep and goats also get pinkeye but it is caused by different bacteria and they usually recover quickly.

North Coast Local Land Services vet Jocelyn Todd said pinkeye is a painful, debilitating condition and can lead to temporary and permanent blindness in cows.

“The first sign of pinkeye is when the eye starts to weep and as the infection progresses, the membranes of the eye become red and swollen, eventually causing the eye to become cloudy and ulcerated,” Dr Todd said.

“Flies are attracted to the watery eyes, feeding on the infected secretions and then they move from animal to animal, which can spread the disease very quickly through the herd.

When pinkeye is identified the treatment is generally successful and should be started as early as possible.

There are ways producers can lower the risk of pinkeye in their livestock, Dr Todd said.

“Producers should consider reducing fly numbers, treating cattle with fly repellent pour-on treatments or insecticidal ear tags, controlling thistles and other abrasive grass seeds and minimising yarding during dusty periods.”

A vaccine is available to assist with preventing and minimising the impacts of pinkeye infection in herds but requires 3-6 weeks after use to provide immunity.

More information about the infection is also available on the Local Land Services website.

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