US – Farmers in the southern states of the US are being urged to control Pinkeye with pasture cutting and antibiotics this summer.
Increased rainfall is a cause for concern for cattlemen as the Pinkeye bacteria thrives in wet grass.
Pastures have grown well this year and represent a health threat for cattle thrusting their heads down into grass, explains Jacob Segers of University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
“It’s a condition that’s always prevalent in cattle. Every time that you have years that are really wet, you have issues with disease, in plants as well as in livestock,” says Mr Segers, who has recently joined the Georgia extension team as a cattle specialist.
“Years like this when we have a lot of rain and grasses are growing really fast, cows stick their head down in the grass to eat and the stems and leaves irritate the eye. The next time they stick their head down to eat, they spread the infection and it can go through the entire herd.”
For this reason, Mr Segers has told anxious farmers to cut particularly long pastures as a preventative method.
Stage One of Pinkeye: Photo Courtesy of University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
He says that Pinkeye is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that covers the surface of the eye, called the conjunctiva.
Usually clear, the eye lining becomes red when infected and is very contagious to other cattle in the herd. Rather link pink eye in humans, adds Mr Segers.
But, farmers themselves are not at risk as humans cannot contract the condition from cattle. Nontheless, Mr Segers urges farmers to consult veterinary doctors and treat the problem with antibiotics.
“If it goes untreated, it can cause the eyeball to rupture or cause actual blindness,” warns MrSegers.
“Usually a round of antibiotics will treat it. We have a vaccine for one strain, and there is another strain right now that we don’t have a commercial vaccine for.”