Detection, Identification and Treatment of Ovine Pink Eye in Sheep from a Western Australian Pre-Export Feedlot

Project Code:  W.LIV.0361

Year Published: 2010

This report investigates the detection, identification and treatment of Infectious Ovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IOK), Pink Eye. Pink Eye has an important impact on rejection rates of sheep for live export. The disease is estimated to be the cause of 0.5% of rejections at a sheep pre-export feedlot in Western Australia and is a serious economic and welfare concern.

Infectious Ovine Keratoconjunctivitis is an infectious disease that has been reported worldwide. Outbreaks commonly occur when sheep are in close contact with each other, for example during transportation or in a feedlot. Many risk factors have been suggested including the effects of a hot, dry and dusty environment and ultra-violet light has been suggested as a possible pre-disposing factor also.

Reports from Europe state that sheep which show no clinical signs can still be carrying organisms implicated in IOK and are therefore able to transmit the infection to other sheep when in contact in the right environment for transmission. Eliminating the possible risk factors mentioned above from a pre-export feedlot in Western Australia is unlikely to be possible. 

The study determined the flora of normal and IOK – affected sheep’s eyes and the sensitivity to antibiotics of bacteria from eyes of sheep showing clinical signs of IOK. Using these results, a treatment trial was conducted comparing seven treatments for IOK which are used commonly in Western Australia.

Keywords: Sheep, On-board/transport, Domestic, Disease, Transport, On-farm, Feedlot, Farm, Performance

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