Agriculture Victoria is reminding cattle producers to be on the lookout for pinkeye with current conditions meaning the risk of an outbreak is high.
District veterinary officer Jeff Cave said farmers needed to be vigilant.
‘‘With the summer season will bring increased sunlight and dust, which can make the eye more vulnerable to the disease,’’ Dr Cave said.
Pinkeye, or Infectious Kerato conjunctivitis, is a highly contagious, painful and debilitating disease that can severely affect animal productivity.
‘‘Pinkeye usually occurs in young cattle in their first summer,’’ Dr Cave said.
‘‘After this initial infection, cattle develop immunity to the disease but may remain carriers of the bacteria, Moraxella bovis, which potentially can lead to future outbreaks in following years.’’
The clinical signs of pinkeye include clear and watery tears, signs of irritation, an aversion to sunlight, reddening and swelling of the eyelids and cloudiness of the eye.
The infection can spread rapidly and result in weight loss and lowered milk production.
In a small percentage of cases, an affected eye may form an abscess and rupture, leading to permanent blindness.
Dr Cave said while most affected eyes completely recovered after three to five weeks, a number may be left with scarring on the surface.
‘‘Pinkeye can be treated with sprays, ointments, injections and patches or a combination of these treatments,’’ he said.
‘‘Extra care should be taken when mustering cattle for the purposes of treatment for pinkeye, as factors such as dust and flies may enhance the spread of the disease.
‘‘Attention should also be taken not to confuse pinkeye with other conditions of the eye, such as a grass seed in the eye, eye cancer and other eye infections.
‘‘An outbreak of pinkeye can be prevented through vaccination three to six weeks before the onset of the pinkeye season.’’
Other control measures include controlling fly numbers to limit the spread of bacteria from animal to animal, prompt segregation and treatment of pinkeye in affected stock and avoiding unnecessary yarding of cattle during periods where the risk of outbreak is higher.
■For further advice contact your local veterinarian, an Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or in NSW, your Local Land Services.