Pink Eye In Oklahoma Cattle Termed Epidemic

Thursday, August 13th 2009, 5:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

UNDATED -- Hot and wet weather has caused an increased fly population this summer, and those flies are transmitting pink eye to cattle in epidemic proportions around the area.

This summer, ranchers are seeing an upswing in the disease of pink eye in their cattle.

"The first sign you'll see is the eye will be tearing really bad and usually within 24 hours there will be an ulcer right in the center of the cornea," said Gary Bynum, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. "And that gets white pretty quick. This disease really comes on in a hurry."

The disease is primarily spread by face flies. Ranchers can blame the hot and humid weather for the particularly bad fly season. Veterinarian Gary Bynum says half of the cattle herds he treats have seen cases of pink eye.

Dr. Bynum says Creek County and Okmulgee have seen the most cases, and it's spread quickly over the past month.

"I don't know if there's probably a new strain. That's probably what's going on. We've even had quite a bit of it in vaccinated cattle," Dr. Bynum said. "These things mutate just like the flu does in people I guess." 

Pink eye in cattle isn't deadly, but Bynum says it is extremely irritating and can lead to bigger problems.

"It's a fairly painful condition, and obviously it gets bad - they can't see, and it can get bad enough that their eyeballs can rupture. And if that happens, it's permanent blindness," Dr. Gary Bynum, D.V.M. said.

Bynum says cattle owners need to call their vets but can treat the disease themselves using an injectable tetracycline. One set of antibiotics usually works, but sometimes Bynum says it takes two rounds. And the cattle should be feeling better in a week to 10 days.

Once the colder weather moves in, the disease shouldn't be as epidemic.

Bynum says that the pink eye found in cattle cannot spread to people or other animals.