Pinkeye is a common, highly contagious disease, with an estimated 150 million dollars lost each year due to decreased weight gain, treatment costs, market discounts, and time.
One of the challenges to successful cattle pinkeye vaccination is the diversity of the organisms associated with this disease. Multiple organisms including bacteria and Mycoplasma are routinely isolated from affected eyes. Most commercial vaccines contain only one type of bacteria. Working with your veterinarian, a better approach is to create a herd-specific vaccine by precisely identifying the organisms affecting your cattle.
Using next generation diagnostics is key to identifying the organisms associated with the disease, then creating a herd-specific (custom) vaccine for a two-dose vaccination program is crucial for building targeted immunity. The first dose primes the immune system and the second dose boosts immunity. With a unique delivery system called “SoliDose®” it is possible to give both doses in one application.
Here’s a how-to precision pinkeye vaccination guide:
Samples should be taken early, eyes with fully developed lesions are already damaged and may not give the best diagnostic result. Sampling the edge of the corneal lesion itself is ideal for isolating the bacteria of interest. Dr. LD Barker of Newcastle, Oklahoma says “diagnostics are a critical part of getting pinkeye under control and I work closely with the producers in my practice to start taking swabs right away when we suspect pinkeye.”
Swabs should be refrigerated immediately and shipped with an ice pack to the diagnostic lab under the direction of the herd veterinarian. Lynette Demuth, Bacteriologist at Cambridge Technologies says, “We get better results from swabs that arrive clean and cold than those with dirt and debris in them.”
A veterinary diagnostic laboratory, like Cambridge Technologies in Worthington, MN will be able to confirm the presence of pinkeye associated organisms like Moraxella bovis, Moraxella bovoculi, and potentially Mycoplasma. It is common to find genetic variations of the same organism in a herd. In that case they can be compared genetically through a next generation sequencing technique to evaluate strain diversity and aid in the selection process for the vaccine. As Dr. Ben Hause, VP of Research and Diagnostics at Cambridge Technologies explains, “The pathogenesis of pinkeye is complex, with contributions from the environment, host, and pathogens playing a role in clinical disease. As many different organisms are thought to be involved in the disease process, it is critical to assess which organisms are present in the diseased eye. Isolation and genetic characterization of the microorganisms from affected eyes is critical in formulating a vaccine which will provide broad protection to disease.”
The custom vaccine requires two doses to ensure that the cattle develop an adequate immune response. However, it isn’t easy to run cattle through the chute a second time. It takes extra time, money, and is stressful to the animals. SoliDose® provides both doses of vaccine in one easy-to-apply implant, avoiding that second trip through the chute.
According to Dr. Rick Hansen, COO of SolidTech Animal Health, the developer of this technology, “SoliDose includes two types of pellets, one releasing shortly after implanting to deliver the first vaccination and one dissolving over 2 to 3 weeks to deliver the booster dose.”
This ensures your cattle get the second dose without the hassle of a second roundup. Dr. LD Barker who uses SoliDose in his practice says, “producers have been very impressed with the results they get from vaccinating with SoliDose and are relieved they don’t have to stress their calves by running them through the chute again for a second dose.”