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Mac’s research on pink eye in cattle

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Mac wishes to thank the many people, particularly cattle farmers both local and Australia-wide, that have helped in his studies on the well-known and devastating disease of cattle- pinkeye. Mac is close to finishing his PhD on the disease. He and the team from The University of Sydney have made great inroads into better understanding pinkeye. They estimated pinkeye affects 2.8M Australian cattle and farmers spend almost $10M on pinkeye ointments and sprays alone, annually. Collaborating with a researcher from Nebraska University, Mac estimated it affects almost 3% of global beef cattle annually.

The Sydney team did the world’s largest survey of farmers on pinkeye and modelled risk factors for disease occurrence. More studies will follow, including the attitudes of Australian farmers to treatment of pinkeye and why some do not treat.

Mac co-authored a report on a new pinkeye vaccine (which was ineffective), trialled in Iowa. He wrote the opening chapter, Defining and diagnosing pinkeye, and co-wrote several other chapters, in an edition of Vet Clinics of North America dedicated to the disease

Mac has been working hard on his favourite subject but so have his colleagues at Border Vets e.g. Cathy, doing her own PhD on brucellosis in pig dogs through Melbourne Uni, attended farms and helped collect tears from a calf (reminiscent of the pensieve tear scene in Harry Potter). Other BVS vets- Emily, Conor and now Katie are all ‘sounding boards’ for their PhDs. Mac’s studies would not have happened without the support of all the BVS staff including Laura, Leigh, Sam, and Amanda and former nurses Dannielle and Heidi, who organised, did spreadsheets, gave suggestions and attended farms. Thanks to the generous co-operation of local beef farmers we also completed a two-year field trial of naturally occurring pinkeye to compare effectiveness of different treatments and evaluate the only pinkeye vaccine in Australia for preventing disease. With the statistical expertise of Assoc Prof Navneet Dhand and Dr Ali Green from Uni Syd, the results should be available soon. Whilst Mac looks like he will complete his PhD on time at the end of 2021 it will not be the end of his studies. The Pinkeye Project have been funded by Meat and Livestock Australia and results so well received that several other projects are being planned. We look forward to keeping you updated.

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