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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Pinkeye Treatment for Cattle

Livestock Update, June 1998

Dr. Dee Whittier, Extension Veterinarian,
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech

Pinkeye is a bacterial eye disease that is very common in Virginia Cattle. It occurs most often during the summer but may occur any time of the year. Considerable economic loss occurs because of weight gain losses in calves and because of lost value of cattle who are left with eye scars or who are blind. Recent research data on pinkeye treatment should be considered by producers as they deal with cases of pinkeye in their herds this summer.

A study dealing with a natural outbreak of pinkeye in a herd of recently weaned Hereford calves was reported recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Eastman et al. JAVMA Feb. 1998. 212[4]:560-563). 119 calves were divided into three groups when the outbreak began, separated from each other, and then treated in different ways. The three treatment groups were:

Calves were then observed about three times a week for the next 7 weeks. The number of calves with active pinkeye at each examination were recorded. The graph below summarizes the findings of the study. The combination of injecting and feeding an antibiotic cured most cases quickly and kept the number of new cases to a minimum. Eye injections cured many cases but new cases followed the treatment of cases.

The following are principles of pinkeye treatment that are supported by research evidence from this study and others.

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