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Livestock Pink Eye

Livestock Pink Eye is an infectious disease caused by bacteria in the eye. It can lead to inflammation and partial or even permanent blindness. Pink Eye is common among cattle, and is caused by the Moraxella bovis bacteria. This bacteria produces a toxin that attacks the cornea of the eye and its surrounding membranes. Flies, particularly Musca sorbens, have been found to play a key role in transmitting Livestock Pink Eye.

Livestock Pink Eye tends to be more prevalent during the summer months, likely because of the connection with flies that are also more prevalent in the heat of summer. Livestock Pink Eye can affect either or both eyes of an animal. Although the infection itself is not fatal, it can cause temporary or permanent blindness. This blindness can result in decreased eating, leading to other illnesses, or an increase in accidental deaths.

One important step in preventing Livestock Pink Eye is limiting the infestation of flies around livestock. Fly control can minimize the infection rate among cattle, in particular. Dusty conditions and bright sunlight can also make animals more susceptible to Livestock Pink Eye. These conditions can cause animals’ eyes to tear up, which in turn attracts more flies. As the flies move from one infected animal to the eyes of other animals, the infection is quickly spread.

Signs of Livestock Pink Eye include a significant increase in eye secretions. The edges of the infected eye, as well as the membranes of the eye, begin to appear red. Often, infected livestock try to hold their eyes partially closed, most likely to minimize an increased sensitivity to brightness. An ulcer, identified by a small white spot that often increases in size, begins to form on the cornea of the infected eye. If the infection continues to spread in the eye the inner portion of the eye can become filled with pus, giving the eye a yellowish appearance.

The most common treatment of Livestock Pink Eye is the application of an ointment that contains penicillin. The ointment must be applied to the inside of the eyelid, where the eyelid and the eye meet in the conjunctive sac. While this is no small task to apply, the good news is that a single dose of some products can last up to 48 hours! Be sure to consult your veterinarian before applying any product, to verify the ointment is correct for your species of livestock.

Livestock Pink Eye is highly contagious and easily spread. It is important to identify the signs early and treat it promptly. When well-cared for, most livestock recover fully and quickly from Livestock Pink Eye.

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