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Pinkeye and Possible Blindness?

Discussion in 'Diseases & Injuries - Sheep' started by shepherdO, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. Aug 24, 2019
    shepherdO

    shepherdO Loving the herd life

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    Okay, I spend a lot of time with my sheep on a daily basis, and I typically notice everything about them. I don't know HOW, but I seem to have missed a case of pinkeye or something similar.

    I just noticed it this morning when Sabine was lagging behind the rest of the flock when we took them to their grazing spot. She seemed very discombobulated, running into the fence three times, and being extremely reluctant to follow the herd. Tonight we examined her and sure enough, runny eyes, lots of caked on goo around them, and very white and cloudy.

    I'm super bummed. She did suffer from a case in the fall, but we separated her and applied that purple stuff, which cleared things up.

    I am super surprised I missed this, as I assume it has to progress for several days at least to get to the cloudy eye stage? We treated her this evening and she's not with the other sheep. But that white cloudy eye scares me. I wonder if she got it from hay poking her in the eye or something like that?

    Either way, if she DOES go blind from this, what are my options? At this point I know she can see fairly well, as she was tricky to catch in the pen - I'm thinking her vision at the moment is limited or fuzzy. Has anyone kept a blind ewe? Breeding? Butcher?

    Thanks,
     
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  2. Aug 25, 2019
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape Herd Master

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    If it's both eyes, then pinkeye is the most likely. Pinkeye is most commonly due to Chlamydia or Mycoplasma species (more rarely, Listeria). The first two respond quickly and well to a long-acting tetracycline injection.

    Pinkeye progressive from a little lachrymation, irritation and and excess blinking to full blown panophthalmitis (white eye/intra-ocular abscesses and even rupture of the anterior chamber of the eye) in a couple of days in some animals.

    Pinkeye is spread by direct animal to animal transfer (head rubbing/physical closeness), flies in the summer, and strong winds and close physical proximity due to silage/hay feeding etc in the winter.

    Pinkeye does clear up without treatment in some, but not all, animals. It can involve, however, involve a period of temporary blindness. Permanent blindness can and does occur, and is inevitable if the eye ruptures.

    Pinkeye is a perennial problem here and I am forever inspecting and injecting. I isolate infected animals if feasible, but, having had as many as 40 affected at one time, this is not always possible. My most severe recent case involved a big Blue Faced Leicester, this breed being particularly prone due to their large and rather bulbous eyes. Somehow I missed the early stages with her and found her with gross conjunctivitis, both eyes were completely white and bulging, and, of course, blind. It was touch-and-go with her. She needed two injections of Alamycin (long-acting tetracycline) three days apart, two injections of meloxicam (anti-inflammatory and analgesic) and isolation with separate feeding/provision of water. As our fields are pretty uneven she was at risk of injuring herself badly whilst totally blind. Over the course of two weeks her eyes have cleared and even the abscess which developed on the pupil of one eye has resorbed. So even advanced cases can get better.

    As for keeping a blind ewe....I have a ewe, Becky, with very limited vision (plus brain damage). She copes very well in with a small flock.....needs to be guided through gates from time to time, but knows her name and follows when called. Though never intended to be bred a tup must have made his way into her field a few years back. She gave birth to a lamb, but never even acknowledged its presence. The neglect of the lamb was not a problem of vision but of her brain damage. Her ewe lamb was successfully bottle reared and is still with me now....totally fit and fine.
     
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  3. Aug 25, 2019
    shepherdO

    shepherdO Loving the herd life

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    Thank you for your thoughtful and well-written post, Sheepshape. It is very difficult to get abx here in Canada now due to new rules. Does it have to be a tetracycline injection, or can it be (eg) the powdered form that you put in water? I've used it in the past with my chickens, and I know the directions refer to use in larger livestock (cattle, etc.) I am super frustrated that I missed the early stages, but also comforted by your comments, and the possibility of preserving her vision.

    Does the fact that she contracted it last fall mean that she's just more susceptible to it than others? I believe I read that immunity is not typically developed, and sheep can retain a greater likelihood of re-infection.

    The sheep are on (sparse) pasture during the day, with some hay in the evening, and I wonder if she poked it while rustling among the feeders...? Do you think that the toxoplasmosis could be related to cats/kittens? Our 2 cats have just had two litters of kittens (3.5 weeks ago), and we had to break open a couple bales to find three that the mum hid about a week ago. We found the kittens, and I think I tossed the opened hay into their feeders. Seeing as none of the ewes are currently bred, I didn't think it was an issue, especially seeing as the kittens were all born in an enclosed shed located far from the sheep. Is this the type of toxoplasmosis that cats spread/shed?

    Meh... sheep...
     
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  4. Aug 25, 2019
    ForGoat'sSake

    ForGoat'sSake Just born

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    @Sheepshape I apologize for hijacking a post but I'm very interested in learning more about the listeria pink eye connection.

    I recently had my oldest goat (9yo) Zinnia come down with pinkeye. I separated her, and by the next day, two more got it. Then the third day one more. I separated each at the first sign of it.

    Tasha miscarried the day before she showed signs of pinkeye, her eye became slightly hazy but never worse than that, and she is nearly completely clear eyed now, it has been five days since onset for her (at night when I go to check on everyone I can see the reflection in that eye clearly whereas the others are still so hazy they do not reflect at all). Joy came down with it on the last day, ended up showing signs of listeria and I began aggressive treatment as soon as I saw her complete a slow circle. She had drooling, fever 106.7, mostly paralyzed head contorted to her right flank, couldn't get up, only retained swallowing mechanism approx 4 hours after her first "circle". This consisted of every 4 hours pennG 10cc/100lbs & 5cc Thiamine, and 10cc /100lbs banamine every 24 hours, along with supportive care of fluids, probios, etc. She died at 50.5 hours into treatment. I couldn't get Dexamethasone as my vet wanted $300 to assess and $30/day care minimum 7 days, husband said no due to low chance of survival. I've since ordered Dex online to have on hand for future emergencies. I've also ordered Usnea due to reading about the success of that along with the other treatment. I have an appointment on Monday (tomorrow) and I plan to take Almond who has the worst eye, she was the second to come down with the pink eye. She is the only one of the surviving three that looks just terrible. I was treating them with drops of goat milk, colloidal silver, vetericyn plus pink eye spray, and 3cc LA200. They do not seem to be responding to the treatments at all. And there's such a huge difference in their worsening/recovering!

    The vet I'm seeing is not reputed to be very good with goats/livestock, but they're closer than the 2+ hour one that would have treated Joy. The local people with livestock only get certificates of health from them. I am hoping to be a bit more educated so that I can get the right meds for this or at least ask the right questions and have the right testing done to be sure that we get this knocked out. Could you shed any light on any of this? This is my first year goating (since Feb) and it has been a hell of a ride. Thank you very much.
     
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  5. Aug 26, 2019
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape Herd Master

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    They develop no immunity against it and often get re-infected within days of treatment during a bad outbreak.
    Sheep can get opportunistic eye infections from straw etc poking in the eye, but this will be one-sided and responds very quickly usually to flucloxacillin eye ointment.
    Kittens are a frequent source of toxoplasma infection in sheep. Any straw which has been in contact with young cats is best burnt.I have two cats and have never had a problem.....not all cats are carriers.
    ForGoat'sSake it sounds as though you have had an awful time....sorry to hear that. (Also sorry to hear about your vet's extortionate charges!.....taking advantage comes to mind)
    Pinkeye due to Listeria responds very well to a 5 day course of penicillin (which is used to treat systemic Listeriosis). I've only ever had one ewe lamb with systemic Listeriosis. She did eventually get better, but we had to maintain her for weeks with fluids squirted down her throat from the drench gun. Her convalescence was very prolonged. We hand fed her for a long time. She did eventually make a full recovery though. I called her Dazey as all through the period of time she had Listeria she seems Dazed and Confused.
    Anyone who said animal care was easy was just joking!
     
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