A close up for a cow's eye infected with New Forest disease© Phil Scott

Prompt identification and treatment of “pink eye” or “New Forest Eye” is important during the summer months, a national animal health organisation has reminded farmers.

National Disease Information Service (Nadis) experts have told cattle keepers to look for five symptoms of the condition, which is caused by bacterium Moraxella bovis.

  • Tear-staining on face
  • Pus matting the lashes of hair and face
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal ulceration
  • Pain when the eye is exposed to direct sunlight

See also: Vet advice on dealing with milk fever and New Forest Eye problems

Also known as infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), the highly contagious disease can cause great pain, disrupt grazing patterns, lower performance and even cause weight loss.

A veterinarian diagnosing the condition could also consider foreign bodies within the conjunctival sac, bovine iritis and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis.

Treatment

  • Prompt treatment is essential
  • Topical antibiotic cream often used
  • Cloxacillin cream or injections of penicillin, oxytetracycline or ceftiofur
  • Seek veterinary assistance

Management and control

Fly control using ear tags and pour-on insecticides can be costly and “never absolute” in dealing with the risk.

See also: Read more veterinary advice about eye conditions in cattle

IBK outbreaks may occur after purchasing stock, advises Nadis. Therefore, managing new groups separately and away from the herd can help.