With hot weather conditions being experienced across Victoria, cattle producers are being advised to be on the lookout for pink eye.
Summer brings increased sunlight and dust, and for some properties with low stocking rates this means plenty of high grass all of which can cause irritation to the surface of the eye making them more vulnerable to pink eye.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) District Veterinary Officer Jeff Cave said pink eye, or infectious keratoconjunctivitis, is a highly contagious, painful and debilitating disease that can severely affect animal productivity.
“Pink eye usually occurs in young cattle in their first summer, but after this initial infection, cattle develop immunity to the disease but may remain carriers of the bacteria, Moraxella bovis, which can lead to future outbreaks in following years,” Dr Cave said.
“The clinical signs of pink eye include clear and watery tears, signs of irritation, an aversion to sunlight, reddening and swelling of the eyelids and cloudiness of the eye.
“In a small percentage of cases, an affected eye may form an abscess and rupture, leading to permanent blindness.
“While most affected eyes completely recover after three to five weeks, a number may be left with scarring on the surface.”
Pink eye can be treated with sprays, ointments, injections and patches or a combination of these treatments.
Dr Cave said extra care should be taken when mustering cattle for the purposes of treatment for pink eye, as factors such as dust and flies may enhance the spread of the disease.
“Caution should also be taken not to confuse pink eye with other conditions of the eye, such as a grass seed in the eye, eye cancer and other eye infections.”
He said an outbreak of pinkeye can be prevented through vaccination three to six weeks before the onset of the pink eye season.
“Other control measures include controlling fly numbers to limit the spread of bacteria from animal to animal: prompt segregation and treatment of pink eye in affected stock; and avoiding unnecessary yarding of cattle during periods where the risk of outbreak is high.”
Source: Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. People wanting further advice are urged to contact their local veterinarian or DEDJTR Veterinary or Animal Health Officer, or in NSW your Local Land Services.