Reports of pinkeye are popping up and Arkansas cattle producers need to watch their herds closely.

Pinkeye, or Moraxella bovis, is usually acute and spreads rapidly in a herd. Left untreated, it can result in blindness in one or both eyes. Pinkeye is reported most frequently in young animals, but can affect cattle of any age.

“The first symptoms of pinkeye are cloudiness of the cornea, followed by one or more small ulcers in the cornea,” said Tom Troxel, associate department head for Animal Science with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “After 48 to 72 hours in severe cases, the entire cornea may be opaque, blinding the animal in that eye.”

Troxel said it’s critical to determine that the ulcers are due to an infection and not caused by a foreign body or parasites.

“Contact your local veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

One clue for cattle producers is the color of the cornea as the disease progresses. A milky white or yellowish cornea can indicate severe infection, where a bluish cast may indicate other causes.

Producers should separate the infected animals to prevent its spread.

“Temporary isolation and preventive treatment of animals newly introduced to the herd may be helpful, because some of these animals may be carriers,” Troxel said.

Producers should try to reduce some of the factors that can cause and spread the infectious version or exacerbate existing eye problems, such as controlling face flies with dust bags or insecticide tags or providing shade to reduce exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Other factors that can initiate or worsen eye problems include a dry, dusty environment; shipping stress; bright sunlight; and irritants such as pollens, grasses.