Overview: Bordetella bronchiseptica is a Gram-negative bacterium that colonises the respiratory tract of mammals and is considered to be a primary pathogen of domestic cats. It is sensible to consider B bronchiseptica as a rare cause of zoonotic infections. The bacterium is susceptible to common disinfectants.
Infection: The bacterium is shed in oral and nasal secretions of infected cats. Dogs with respiratory disease are an infection risk for cats. The microorganism colonises the ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract of the host, establishing chronic infections.
Disease signs: A wide range of respiratory signs has been associated with B bronchiseptica infection, from a mild illness with fever, coughing, sneezing, ocular discharge and lymphadenopathy to severe pneumonia with dyspnoea, cyanosis and death.
Diagnosis: Bacterial culture and PCR lack sensitivity. Samples for isolation can be obtained from the oropharynx (swabs) or via transtracheal wash/ bronchoalveolar lavage.
Disease management: Antibacterial therapy is indicated, even if the signs are mild. Where sensitivity data are unavailable, tetracyclines are recommended. Doxycycline is the antimicrobial of choice. Cats with severe B bronchiseptica infection require supportive therapy and intensive nursing care.
Vaccination recommendations: In some European countries an intranasal modified-live virus vaccine is available. The modified-live product is licensed for use as a single vaccination with annual boosters. Cats should not be routinely vaccinated against B bronchiseptica (non-core), since the infection generally causes only a mild disease.