Pinkeye, also known as infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), is a common, acute, highly contagious eye disease that affects beef and dairy cattle worldwide. In cattle, pinkeye not only affects the conjunctiva surrounding the eye but also the cornea itself, and in severe cases causes blindness. Cattle of all age groups are affected, however calves tend to get more severe infections then adult cattle.
Bovine pinkeye is a multifactorial disease, meaning that several different factors contribute to its development, which include: exposure to infectious agents (viruses, bacteria), insects (especially flies), and environmental conditions (dust, ultraviolet light, and plant awns such as foxtails). Many cases of pinkeye in cattle are caused by infection with the bacterium Moraxella bovis. Other causes include Mycoplasma infection, Chlamydia infection, and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR). Cattle breeds which don't have pigment around their eyes (such as Hereford and Charolais) are more prone to developing pinkeye as they are especially sensitive to sunlight.
Bovine pinkeye is transmitted to cattle through direct contact with infected animals, biting insects which can transmit the pathogens from feeding on eye secretions of infected cattle, or indirectly through exposure to contaminated fomites or handlers.
The incubation period for pinkeye is typically 2 to 3 days.