Treat Pinkeye Early for Best Results

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With the arrival of summer, pinkeye treatment is an issue that many producers must face. Appropriate, timely treatment will minimize losses from this disease that sometimes defies preventive steps.

Probably the most important aspect of pinkeye treatment is that it is given early. When an ulcer first forms, all that will be seen from a distance is an uncomfortable eye with lots of tearing. Cattle tend to hold the affected eye closed. Treatment at this phase, before the eye becomes cloudy and “blue,” will give very encouraging results.

If, on the other hand, treatment is delayed until the eye becomes cloudy or even worse until the classic pink appears with a white or yellow glob in the center of the eye, results will be much less satisfactory.

The approved products to treat pinkeye include the long-acting tetracycline products (for example, LA-200®, Bio-Mycin® 200, etc.) and now tulathromycin (trade name Draxxin®). These products should be delivered according to label directions in terms of dose and route. Slaughter withdrawal rules should be carefully considered when any antibiotic is used.

In a recent study published concerning the efficacy of tulathromycin, the results of treatment are documented. A group of calves with pinkeye was treated and a group was left untreated as controls. The treated group of calves with pinkeye was treated and a group was left untreated as controls. The treated group responded, as evidenced by complete healing of eyes by various times after treatment. For example, over 40% had cured by day 7, over 50% by day 10, over 80% by day 12, and all by day 17. While a few untreated calves had self-cures, only 10% had cured by day 12 and 60% were still affected at day 20.

With early treatment, permanent damage to the eye should be minimal. When cases are treated late, complications such as scars, glaucoma, resulting in a large bulging “pop eye,” or rupture of the eye resulting in total eye loss are more common. These complications will permanently decrease the value of cattle.

Sometimes placing a patch over the eye following treatment is a recommended procedure. It protects the eye from sunlight and keeps flies away from the eye. This should have benefit in decreasing the spread of the disease in the herd.

If fly control is not adequate, an extra application of treatment that will remove all face flies is very highly recommended. For information on fly control options, call the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center at 336-401-8025.