Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.


Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), Bovine Pinkeye

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.

Incubation period
The incubation period for pinkeye is typically 2 to 3 days.


Light sensitivity
Eye discharge
One or both eyes may affected
Frequent squinting
Actively seek shade


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Laboratory tests


Treatment TypeDetailsReference
Topical antibioticsM.bovis is sensitive to oxytetracycline and penicillin
Eye protectionUse an eye patch or other material to cover the eye, preventing further irritation
Severe casesMay require your veterinarian to perform a third eyelid flap or suture the eyelids closed to protect the eye


  • Practice good insect control, keeping number of flies minimal on the premises
  • Keep pastures maintained; cut and free of seedheads which can cause small cuts or abrasions on the cow's eyes
  • Don't overcrowd pastures
  • Vaccinate - commercial and autogenous vaccines are available against some causes of pinkeye
  • Practice good sanitation on property
  • Biosecurity


Good if treated promptly and correctly.

Article Reference

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to large number of flying insects


  • Bovine herpesvirus 1
  • Mycoplasma mycoides

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