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Pinkeye

Pinkeye is a disease that mainly targets the conjunctiva and cornea. It is the lay term for weepy, cloudy eyes in livestock. The condition is painful and debilitating, leading to substantial production losses.

In sheep and goats, it is generally caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma conjunctivae, chlamydia organisms and other Mycoplasma sp..

In cattle, pinkeye is mainly caused by Moraxella bovis, but may be associated with other bacteria including Mycoplasma and Neisseria.

Pinkeye generally occurs when the bacteria are present and the animal suffers some form of irritation or trauma to the cornea from things such as dust, dryness or ultraviolet light.

Conditions when pinkeye is likely to occur

  • dusty conditions
  • animals in close contact such as during yarding or drought feeding
  • summer grass seed infected pastures

Identification and diagnosis

You should suspect pinkeye in animals with weeping, cloudy eyes. Pinkeye can be infectious and can spread rapidly, especially if flies are active.

Prevention

An integrated approach to prevent pinkeye should consider the following:

  • avoiding dusty conditions
  • avoiding high-risk grass seed pastures
  • vaccinating against the disease following the directions on the vaccine label.
  • treating with ointments, powders or sprays that are available from a veterinarian.