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Ask a Vet: Pinkeye vaccines with fly prevention

Jacob Carlson for Progressive Dairy Published on 11 March 2020

Pinkeye is a common infectious disease affecting one or both eyes of cattle. Pinkeye is commonly caused by an infectious bacteria known as Moraxella bovis. Other emerging causative agents include Moraxella bovoculi and Mycoplasma bovoculi.

Infection typically lasts four to eight weeks but can last longer. As the eye heals, scar tissue will gradually disappear, and vision will be restored. In severe cases, a white scar may persist and interfere with vision or result in permanent blindness. Pinkeye is spread by face flies and house flies feeding on secretions and then traveling from animal to animal or by direct rubbing of eye secretions between animals.



Clinical signs of pinkeye

Early signs

  • Redness and inflammation in the white part of the eye
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eye may “close” due to pain and to avoid sunlight

Late signs

  • Cornea becomes cloudy or white and eroded or raised
  • Circular spot develops near the center of the cornea

What is the impact?

Production loss

  • Weight and milk production loss make cows less profitable until pain subsides and normal feeding habits resume.

  • An animal with both eyes affected has extreme difficulty finding feed and water unless restricted to a small pen by itself.

  • Calves suffering from pinkeye weigh an average of 19.6 pounds less than healthy calves at weaning.

What herd management techniques help prevent pinkeye?

  • Reduce initial eye irritations and limit sharp objects from traumatizing the eye.

  • Establish a fly control program. Control flies by using eartags, sprays, back rubbers, face rubbers, dust bags, spot-ons, pour-ons or fly predators.

  • Vaccinate prior to fly season. Consult with your herd health veterinarian for proper vaccination guidelines for your particular herd.

What are my vaccination options?

  • Several commercial options are available that vaccinate for Moraxella bovis only or contain both Moraxella bovis and 7-way clostridial protection.

  • Moraxella Bovoculi Pinkeye is currently the only vaccine on the market that offers coverage for Moraxella bovoculi.

Just like the flu in people, there are numerous strains of pinkeye that can affect cattle.

An autogenous (custom) vaccine can be the answer.


What is the benefit of a custom-made vaccine?

In some cases, commercially available “one-size-fits-all” combination vaccines may not contain the desired strain variation for an individual herd situation.  end mark

PHOTO: Pinkeye. Staff photo.

Jacob Carlson
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