Pinkeye (infectious bovine kerato-conjunctivitis, or IBK)

Conditions when likely to occur:

Young cattle especially in close contact such as around watering points and dusty yards or supplementary feeding. Flies and dust are likely to spread the conditions and cattle in poor condition are more susceptible.

Introduced cattle or herd that trade a lot of cattle are likely to be at more risk, especially if they have no previous exposure.

Clinical signs:

Increased tear production and weeping from eye. The surface of the eye (cornea) becomes cloudy and if it becomes more severe the eye can change from a white to pink or yellow colour. Some eyes recover but others are left with a permanent scar and remain blind.

Infected animals lose weight and may be blind if both eyes are affected.

Bacteriological testing can conform the cause of pinkeye with Moraxella bovis the most common cause.

Management strategy to prevent disease:

  • Avoid close contact of young calves, especially in hot dusty conditions with intensive feeding in the face of an outbreak. Quarantine mobs with active pinkeye from mobs with no pinkeye. 
  • Control fly activity when intensive feeding such as in drought or with yard weaning when spread is more likely. 

Cattle affected with pinkeye should receive treatment to enhance recovery time and reduce animal discomfort.  

Vaccination available.

More information on pinkeye including causes, prevention and treatment can be found on the primefacts factsheet provided by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.