New Forest Eye, which is caused by a bacterium called Moraxella bovis and is suspected to be the most common eye condition seen in cattle, is usually seen in epidemics when a chronically or subclinically infected animal enters a herd. It is most commonly spread by flies in the summer months, though dust, ultraviolet light, climate, concurrent pathogens, and pasture conditions all play a role.
New Forest Eye is also known as Infectious Bovine Keratorconjunctivits (IBK), Silage eye, Pink eye, or conjunctivitis.
What Are the Symptoms of New Forest Eye?
The symptoms of New Forest Eye can first appear mildly with cattle suffering from runny eyes and tears. However, as the condition progresses, pus can be seen around the eye and the surface of the eye becomes cloudy. When left untreated, New Forest Eye can cause ulceration and permanent damage to the eye.
Calves are more susceptible and exhibit more severe clinical symptoms. This can result in a significant depression of growth and cause great monetary loss.
How to Treat New Forest Eye
New Forest Eye typically requires the use of a topical antibiotic ointment. It’s also common for an antibiotic injection to be administered into the eyelid, though this requires excellent restraint of the animal and can therefore be hard to administer.
Treatment for New Forest Eye is most effective when administered early on. Any affected animals should be removed from the group as soon as possible so to limit the spread of the condition.
Can New Forest Eye Be Prevented?
Steps can be taken to prevent New Forest Eye or at the very least prevent the rapid spread of the condition.
Any cattle that have recently been purchased should at first be kept separate from the herd. As New Forest Eye is commonly spread by flies, it’s a good idea to control flies through the use of insecticides and prevent cattle access to any areas where flies may be an issue – i.e. near water and under trees. Making sure that close contact between cattle is avoided, by providing adequate feeding space, for example, can also help.