I had pinkeye, so does that mean I’m a bull?

So a few weeks back I woke up with a bit of a problem.

My eye was matted shut, so I drove to the doctor with just one good eye.

The doctor quickly diagnosed the problem as pinkeye.

My first thought was, “How did that happen?”

Friends and family thought it was hilarious. Some told me I shouldn’t let people fart on my pillow, and others suggested I not pick my butt and then scratch my eye.

I get it. Pinkeye is hilarious. Haha.

Of course, the best ribbing I received came from Dan Thalmann, who is the editor and publisher of the Washington County News.

Hearing of my plight, he quickly drew a comparison between my situation and a news release he got from Kansas State University Research and Extension Office.

Here is what it reads:

K-State Vet Urges Cattle Producers To Watch for Pinkeye

MANHATTAN, Kan. – It shows up every year and to the unlucky cattle that contract it, Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), more commonly called pinkeye, is incredibly painful and if left untreated, can lead to loss of the eye, a Kansas State University veterinarian said.

“Pinkeye is usually caused by the bacteria Moraxella bovis,” said K- State Research and Extension veterinarian Larry Hollis. “However, we’ve found that in many cases – especially the extremely difficult cases – another bacteria, either Branhamella ovis or Mycoplasma bovoculi, is also present.”

The disease is spread by flies, said Hollis, which means that good fly control around cattle production areas should always be a priority.

In its early stages, pinkeye is usually easier to treat, he said. The disease can accelerate rapidly, however, and if not treated aggressively can lead to damage to the eye or complete loss of the eye.

“It is painful as all get-out,” said Hollis, who added that cattle with an active case of pinkeye or those with permanent damage are discounted at sale time. “Watch for animals that are producing an unusual amount of tears (discharge) that show up on the face,” he said, adding that “there will always be a carrier animal in the vicinity – either in your herd or one down the road.”

Those who suspect pinkeye should look into the eye closely for any ulceration on the cornea. In extreme cases the cornea will appear white because of pus buildup inside the eye.

Cattle with pinkeye are extremely sensitive to light – even on a cloudy day.

“If you´re got a few cattle that are hanging back in the shade while the rest go out to graze, even on days with cloud cover, you very well may have a pinkeye problem,” the veterinarian said.

Pinkeye is often at its worst in late summer and early fall because the fly population has had time to build through the summer, he added.

Also, pasture grasses are tall this time of year and can irritate cattle’s eyes as they graze. Once an animal’s eye starts tearing in response to irritants, flies are attracted to the discharge, some of which may be carrying the Moraxella bovis bacteria.

“Tears are like a magnet for flies,” Hollis said.

Oxytetracycline is often effective in treating individual animals with pinkeye, he added, but he encourages producers to call their veterinarian about the best treatment options.

I am happy to report I am now almost a week cured thanks to my doctor-prescribed eye drops, but reading this release I assume means two things.

I either need to get rid of my fly farm or stop being a bovine.

Well, I like chewing my cud too much, so I guess the flies are. I hope they’ll understand.

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About toddvogts 819 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.