Pink and powerful

By Connie Orcutt • Published: June 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

The beef cattle industry loses almost 150 million dollars annually to a bacterial infection that doesn’t get much press. This isn’t mad cow disease or an E. coli epidemic. We’re talking about pink eye.

Face flies spread the bacteria among cattle and cause irritation, allowing the organism to set up house. Other eye irritants include weeds, hay, dust and even sunlight. Calves, animals with white eyelids and malnourished cattle are most at risk.

Inflamed eyelid margins, tearing and sensitivity to light signal early problems. Then ulcers form on the cornea, which is the clear surface of the eye, and ultimately, the infection invades the eye. In worst case scenarios, cattle are blinded by pink eye. They don’t gain weight normally, produce less milk and are prone to further injury.

Early treatment can send the bacteria packing before a nuisance turns into a calamity.