Written by Dr. Jim Heier, Professional Services Veterinarian at Armor Animal Health
Pinkeye season is upon us. Pinkeye disease in cattle is defined as infection of the eye area especially the tears and eyeball itself. Pinkeye can start simply as excessive tearing, progressing to cloudy discoloration of the eyeball and ending in ulceration of the cornea on the eyeball. Pinkeye has traditionally been caused by Moraxella bovis; however more recently both Moraxella bovoculi and Mycoplasma bovis have been cultured.
Pinkeye is spread from one animal to another by face flies infecting the tears of the cattle. Seasons with large amounts of flies are the worst periods for pinkeye. However, pinkeye may appear in winter months when animals are confined in barns.
Focus on Prevention
Prevention starts with keeping flies under control by removing stagnant puddles and ponds, keeping grass and brush around buildings neatly cut and providing air movement in barns. Using insecticides to control the fly population can also help decrease disease severity.
Vaccination can be very useful, however traditional pinkeye vaccines only contained Moraxella bovis strains and have not been as effective. Newer pinkeye vaccines have Moraxella bovoculi in them.
Consider Autogenous Pinkeye Vaccines
An alternative is to use an autogenous pinkeye vaccine made up of bacterial cultures taken from one farm or many farms.
Autogenous pinkeye vaccines contain Moraxella bovis and Moraxella bovoculi and sometimes Mycoplasma bovis. The process of creating autogenous vaccines can be expensive if done on a small scale but is cost effective if large doses are produced and used by many farms in a veterinary practice.
Armor Animal Health offers an autogenous pinkeye vaccine that works well. Veterinarians can contact our Professional Services Team for additional details.
Remember pinkeye is caused by face flies. It is simple to control through prevention and early treatment, but is a very serious disease if left untreated, causing blindness and eye loss.