Pinkeye in Goats
Written by Administrator-GL   
Monday, 04 June 2012

Pinkeye in Goats

You notice your goat has weepy runny eyes, where it appears they are crying, the eye may look reddened, there may be crusty matter around the eye rim - the first thing you do is hold the goat and look in the eye to see if it has something in there irritating it.. (Go Wash YOUR hands before you touch ANYthing else!) it may be pinkeye and if so, it is usually Very contagious even to humans!

Grab a pair of gloves, and a bottle you have just for goats of some sort of eye wash, 'visine' saline or some other type of saline eye wash- have someone help you hold the goat's head still and open the eye wide and tilt to the side, drip a few drops of the eye wash into the goat's eye so it runs to the lower side - look and see if there is a seed, foxtail or some other foreign object in there or a cut possibly - more than likely there will not be but if there is, do NOT try to reach in with tweezers to get it.. the goat may jump and you will end up poking the goat in the eye possibly causing blindness- instead, take your tube of triple antibiotic eye ointment (That you should already have on hand in case you need it) NOT neosporin, as it is not made for eyes.. Squeeze some on a q-tip and apply into the inner corner of the eye, close the upper eyelid and the ointment will disperse itself across the eye, allowing the foreign object to come to the corner of the eye where it can be removed easily with a q-tip.

If you see nothing in the eye but it still appears red and possibly starting to cloud over the eye - suspect pinkeye.

Pinkeye in goats and Pinkeye in cattle is not the same illness; vaccines for Pinkeye in other species do not work on goats. Pinkeye in goats may be caused by several different agents even though the symptoms are similar. Pinkeye can be the result of infectious or non-infectious organisms. Since infectious Pinkeye is the most common and is also highly contagious even to humans, we will focus on this in this article.

Non-infectious Pinkeye can occur in individual animals as a result of over-exposure to very bright sunlight, dusty hay, seeds from plants, or blowing dust (either in pastures or trailers while being transported). Treatment is similar to that used in medicating infectious Pinkeye and usually requires one treatment - I personally drip a drop of Tylan200 into the eye using a syringe with no needle. It stings like a bugger but it works - NOTE: This may also work with only one or two applications in the VERY early stages of pinkeye.

Infectious Pinkeye can be caused by viruses or bacteria and is medically termed infectious keratoconjunctivitis. In goats, mycoplasmal infections are most common, although aerobic bacteria also have been isolated. Although much of the syndrome in young goats is caused by Mycoplasma agalactiae , it may be caused by other mycoplasmal species, notably M conjunctivae .

Pinkeye can be brought on by stress . . . stress from disbudding, castration, weaning, moving/transporting the goat, stress resulting from improper nutrition/under-feeding, stress caused by severe weather or dramatic weather changes, or stress arising from an underlying illness (abortion, pneumonia) . Stress reduces the immune system's ability to suppress the outbreak of Pinkeye. Never underestimate stress induced through improper nutrition. A poorly-fed goat is always a goat on the verge of illness.

Flies transmit Pinkeye from goat to goat; landing on the weepy area of the infected goat and then to a non-infected goat- flies love landing on the moist area of the eyes- therefore, keeping the fly population down is important.
Shows and livestock sales are ideal places for goats to pick up infectious Pinkeye. The viral mechanism that causes the abortion disease Chlamydia often begins with Pinkeye. Sometimes the first recognizable sign of an impending abortion is Pinkeye. Certain types of Pinkeye, particularly Chlamydia-induced infections, tend to be chronic (recurring) because the goat becomes a carrier. . . . able to infect others and have repeated bouts of the disease itself.

Pinkeye can be a serious illness in a goat. Early signs of Pinkeye include runny, red, and swollen eyes. The eye becomes hazy and then turns opaque, the goat begins to lose its eyesight. If left untreated, blindness can occur. If corneal ulcers appear and perforate, the eye can rupture, sink into the eye socket, and infection can travel throughout its body. If prompt treatment doesn't take place, the goat can die.Stages of Pinkeye in Goats

Put the affected goat in a quiet,clean, cool, dry, shady location out of direct sunlight. Sunlight aggravates Pinkeye and delays healing. Make sure the pen is small and well ventilated. If the goat has kids make sure to allow the kids to be in a nearby pen so the stress of separation is reduced.

If the eye has not ulcerated, I usually apply a drop or 2 of Tylan200 into each eye and then apply tetracycline (Terramycin) ophthalmic ointment three or four times a day (minimum: twice a day) , using disposable gloves to prevent spread of the infection to other goats or people. Tetracycline eye ointments are the recommended treatment because tetracycline has the broadest spectrum of coverage for the types of organisms that cause Pinkeye in goats. I Never use the pinkeye powdered spray- Powders and aerosols, are somewhat effective, but Very irritating to the eye, I do not recommend them at allPinkeye puffer-is a no no

Injectable Tylan200 or LA200 (oxytetracycline 200mg/ml) should be used sub-cutaneously (SQ) in addition to topical eye ointments. Use Tyaln200 or oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml at 5cc/100 pounds body weight and inject SQ for a minimum of three and preferably five consecutive days. If a chlamydia-caused abortion is occurring, injectable oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml must be used to try to stop the abortion. NOTE:The potential for interfering with a fetus' bone development in utero by using oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml is minimal and far outweighed by the benefits of the drug.

The best treatment for eyes that have not ulcerated is to use Ophthalmic Ointment (Antibiotic Ophthalmic Ointment) on a q-tip and placed into the inner corner of the eye, using the opposite end of the q-tip for the other eye- the ointment will spread across the entire eye when the goat closes the eye. Listerine on a cotton ball can be used to clean the fluid off of the goat's face under the eyes.

If the eye has ulcerated (colored part of the eye has risen outward from the surface of the eyeball), Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Bacitracin Zinc Ophthalmic Ointment Rx (Triple Antibiotic Ophthalmic Ointment is a Vet Prescribed medication) is the required medication. This is a prescription medication available only through your veterinarian. Buy several tubes and keep them on hand; the tubes contain only 1/4 ounce.
Ophthalmic ointments are relatively expensive, but there is no substitute for them. Apply this ointment a minimum of twice a day until the goat can see and the cloudiness/ulceration is gone. The goat may lose it's eyesight completely for a period of time, but if properly treated (even if ulceration has occurred), sight will usually return. It is not unusual for a white smudge of a scar to remain on the eyeball after the ulceration has healed.

NOTE: If severe ulceration has occurred, a trip to the vet is absolutely needed to avoid losing the eye and possibly death due to the infection spreading into the system!

NOTE:Permanent sight loss will occur if steroid ophthalmic medications are used on ulcerated eyes. Do not use steroid products such as Gentocin Durafilm (cortico-steroids) or any medication containing dexamethazone on an ulcerated eye! Blood vessels must begin to grow back into the eye for healing to occur and for the sight to return, and steroids will interfere with blood-vessel regeneration.

Important NOTE:A badly ulcerated eye can be diagnosed easily-as in the photo above- the colored part of the eye (cornea) looks like it is sticking out of the eyeball on a stem, preventing the goat from fully closing its eye. The ulcerated eye may rupture and collapse into the eye socket. If this occurs, the infection will travel throughout the goat's body and will become "systemic." If left untreated under such conditions, the goat can die. A trip to the vet is in order should this happen.

Severe or prolonged untreated pinkeye cases may result in partial or complete loss of sight and visible scarring of the cornea and may lead to death should the infection travel through the system - Treated Pinkeye lasts anywhere from ten days to many weeks.

Non-infectious Pinkeye generally falls into three categories: (1) Abrasions caused by outside irritants such as blowing dust or by the Listeriosis organism; (2) Vitamin A deficiency; or (3) Toxins, such as locoweed poisoning ("Dry Eye") or fire ant stings. Topical ophthalmic ointments cited above are used to treat these conditions; in the cases of Listeriosis and Vitamin A deficiency, the underlying problem must also be cured. As you can well see, the initial cause of pinkeye must be established at the time you notice it- start treating but make sure you observe the herd to see if any other causes are the culprit- esp Listeriosis as the herd-mates will have to be treated accordingly

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 June 2012 )