Friday, December 4, 2009

Eye Infection

I'll warn you. This blog is long and a bit technical but even for those of you without livestock it holds a few interesting tidbits of information that applies to you if you've ever dealt with eye infections, especially Pinkeye.

Just looking at this picture makes my eyes water and as you can see it is making poor Pudge's eye flow. I know it is uncomfortable but look how red it is and observe the ulcer. It is a big water bubble and is painful. Her wet face and squinting is what alerted me to the problem. Mildly wet faces is quite normal in this part of Wyoming where the wind blows frequently but this saturated isn't. When I took a hold of her this is what I found - an ulcerated red eye. The first thing that popped into my head was Pinkeye as the eye becomes watery and red and then a white film begins in the middle of the eye and spreads outward in all directions. This eye infection on the other hand seemed to come on suddenly. I'll admit getting ready for two Thanksgiving feasts had me distracted and I wasn't as observant as usual but previous to that I had been watching my goats carefully. Never underestimate the importance of leaning back against a post and studying your animals for any behavior or physical condition that seems amiss. You'll spot trouble before it gets a controlling hand.

Pudge's other eye. It is healthy.

Though I wasn't concerned I had been cautious and observant, a neighbor had asked me over to see if any of her goats were in heat and to look at one of her goats with a milky colored film over its eye. That was a few weeks ago. The doe's eye didn't look too bad, not nearly as bad as Pudge's and when I saw the doe a week and a half later, it looked the same, (She hadn't treated it.) First of all, let me clear up the fact that the neighbor nor I have Pinkeye in our goats. That's for those of you that read this blog and are in and around our animals. I've seen and dealt with lots of ulcerations from Pinkeye in calves while on the ranch my father managed or treating my father's roping calves. After a few minutes observation and thought I came to that conclusion.

1. Pinkeye will normally clear up on its own within ten days to three weeks tops. It is a self-limiting disease but permanent blindness and damage can occur if not treated. Plus, the animal will go off their feed losing weight making them susceptible to other infections. If ulceration occurs, it will cause at least temporary blindness making finding water and feed difficult.

2. Pinkeye spreads like wildfire through three types of transportation and if the infected animal is not isolated, it will spread through 80% percent or more of the animals.

3. A. Flies are the main carriers of the disease as they land near the eye feasting on the yellow or green oozing discharge that crusts and then transport the bacteria to the other animals by contact.

B. Occasionally the wind will pick up dust that has the bacteria and blow it into an animals eyes.

C. You can also spread the disease if you do not take precautions when handling sick animals and then touch those not yet effected. Wearing medical gloves while treating Pinkeye and washing your hands well is a good practice. Besides isolating the animal, you should lower the fly population, and keep the discharge washed from the sick animals face so the flies don't have a ripe source of bacteria to feast upon and spread.

Hence, since none of the other goats are effected, there are no flies, especially in this below zero temperatures we're freezing in, there is only a watery clear discharge, and it is not summer or fall when the disease is prevalent -- IT IS NOT PINKEYE I'm dealing with.

My big girl Pudge. Note her big goatee typical of a Saanen. She is a Boer/Saanen cross.

Then what is the reason for Pudge's nasty looking eye? Well, before we get to that let's first finish discussing Pinkeye because it will shed light on how to treat Pudge.

Ulcerations of the eye can be caused by a number of bacteria and as a secondary infection from a virus. As a rule Pinkeye is species specific. What does that mean? Well, the bacteria that most often caused Pinkeye in cattle is Morarella, and in humans it's Pyogenic, where as sheep and goats get it from Mycoplasma or Chlamydia, Chlamydia psittici to be specific. Don't panic there are several different strains of Chlamydia. One causes enzootic abortions (Chlamydia and Brucellosis are the two causes of enzootic abortions.), another arthritis, and another pneumonia in lambs. That's why when I write informational blogs, I do my best to research numerous sights from universities and vets. Just to see what others are saying, I journeyed to a few other sights with lots of homey advice, some of it helpful, and some of it down right dangerous to the animal. So I caution you, be careful where you get your information from.

If someone tells you that you can get pink eye from treating livestock. The answer is maybe? It depends on the bacteria that is causing the infection. I've had my share of Pinkeye while treating calves. Since it was when I was very young, I'm sure it had something to do with hygiene and whether it was the bacteria from the calf or others that happened to be present while I was treating the calf I'll never know but I can't stress enough that using gloves and washing your hands as a precaution is important. Around ten years ago my middle daughter and I had Pinkeye, not from the livestock, and it was an unpleasant reminder of just how painfully irritating the disease is and so I wouldn't leave an animal untreated. Besides, I'd be afraid that blindness would set in permanently.

By now you've probably had enough of scientific explanations. I'm sure what you really want to know is what do you do if your goat looks like this? From experience I can tell you that the medicine from the feed store for Pinkeye is for cattle. Before I became smart, ha ha, or in other words started researching the Internet and asking vets lots of informed questions, I have tried using the Pinkeye medicine from the feed store on my sheep and goat's eye infections. One time it worked the other times it didn't. Now I know why and so do you as obviously the type of bacterial infection matched the antibacterial medication once and the other times it didn't.

But I still haven't told you what's wrong with Pudge. I don't know. Since I'm not willing at this point to have a vet swab her eye and test to see what type of bacteria I'm dealing with. Most times it isn't necessary. There are a few things I can do that should do the trick. You see the vet will most likely give her a broad spectrum antibiotic that is aimed at a number of types of bacteria and then if that doesn't work, he will test.

With the weather sooo cold I didn't want to haul Pudge to the vets and it wasn't really necessary so I took a picture of her eye with my digital camera and went in. The vet was out on a call but the vet tech took one look and gave me this medication for dogs and cats. It's the same stuff recommended on the web sights I checked. She also cautioned me to not use a steroid on the eye as they will cause permanent damage if the eye has ulcerated. It is a different story if the eye has not gotten to that stage or is in the beginning stages of Pinkeye where the eye has a yellow or green discharge, or has progressed to being red, -- then the steroid is helpful as a anti-inflammatory.

Dexamethasone is the one I saw most often recommended in a combination with the broad spectrum antibiotic Gentamycin sulfate. As you can see since Pudge has a big time ulcerated eye, I'm using just Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic. Furazone powder which is for surface bacterial infections in wounds is sometimes used but not recommended usually by vets since it is irritating and many say not as effective. Your vet might have a different opinion.

My first move was to squirt Pen Aqueous which is a penicillin G into Pudge's eyes. It works super on barn kittens when they get red eyes with a crusty green discharge that often seals the eye shut. It's probably Pinkeye as lots of the kittens get it but it doesn't carry over to the livestock. I squirt the Pen Aqueous in their eye usually only once since they have to have both eyes nearly matted shut to catch them and they haven't ever needed another dose. Good thing because I'd never get my hands on them.

With goats it works only if the infection is just getting started or is mild. So after three days with no noticeable results, I decided to drive the hour and fifteen minutes to our daughters figuring I'd get a Christmas tree, see the kids, and stop by their vet for some medication. Our nearest vet is 40 miles away and always insists on seeing the animal. With temperatures in the teens, I wasn't anxious to haul her if I didn't have too. Hence, that's where the digital camera came in handy.

I read where LA 200 IM, make sure it is IM as simply LA 200 cause some pretty severe lameness at times when injected and in the eye is very irritating, can also be squirted in the eye and will compact some bacteria. The vet tech said that the Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic was much stronger than the Pennicilin G in fighting eye infections and by far more effective. For under three bucks a bottle for the Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic Solution it hardly makes sense to keep dosing with the less effective Penicillin G.

My next goat blog will be on a lighter subject. Goat caroling. Haven't heard of it? Well, return next week and I'll tell you all about it.

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