Pink eye is an infectious and contagious bacterial disease in sheep and goats. The term “pink eye” is a lay term for the official term “keratoconjunctivitis.” It refers to inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.
At Porter Valley Ranch, we experience pink eye once a year, usually early spring. Last year we did not recognize the symptoms soon enough. As a result, a large portion of our herd became infected. (Pink eye is extremely contagious.)
This year we brought in a new ram, who soon after started to show symptoms. We treated and isolated him, and luckily no other sheep caught the bacterial disease.
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink eye is an effect of a few different bacterial strains. Chlamydia psittaci (ovis) and Mycoplasma conjunctiva are the culprits.
Any time you bring a new animal into your flock, these bacterias are a concern. Make sure to monitor any new animals in isolation for two weeks or more.
Other times pink eye begins to present when animals are stressed or seasons change. We have noticed our own sheep developing pink eye as a result of spring allergies.
Symptoms & Concerns
Symptoms of pink eye in sheep include:
- excessive blinking
- oozing discharge from the eyes
- whites of their eyes grow reddened and inflamed as (you can see this in the video)
- opaque covering over their eyeballs that makes their eyes appear very cloudy
Pink eye has the possibility of causing blindness. That is, thankfully, very rare.
You may choose to let the virus run its course. However if you have a large herd that is not affected, it would be wise to treat the problems before everyone in the herd becomes contaminated.
Check out the video with Josh demonstrating why he chose to treat his sheep Creole and the results of the treatment. He also shows the pink eye ointment you can find at just about any livestock store.