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Bordetella bronchiseptica


Synonym(s): B. bronchiseptica




  • Genus: Bordetella.
  • Species: bronchiseptica.


  • Bordetella named after Jules Bordet who, together with Gengou, first isolated the organism causing pertussis.
  • Bronchiseptica: Gk: bronchus - the trachea; septicus - putrefractive, septic; bronchiseptica - with an infected bronchus.

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Clinical Effects



  • Primarily parasite of ciliated epithelium of mammals and birds.
  • Found in wild and domestic carnivores, rodents, pigs, rabbits, horses and other herbivores, turkeys and primates.
  • Presence does not necessarily indicate disease.
  • Can survive in lakewater and soil.


  • Reproduces asexually.
  • Some conjugation with transfer of plasmids probably occurs.


  • By aerosol or direct contact.
  • Most mammalian infections are airborne.
  • It is thought inter-species transmission can occur; evidence to suggest transmission between dogs and cats.

Pathological effects

  • Predilection for ciliated cells of respiratory epithelium.
  • Adheres to the epithelial cells and produces adenyl cyclase and tracheal cytotoxin which protects the organisms from phagocytosis by host cells and causes ciliary paralysis. Rapid proliferation of the organism and inflammation follow.
  • Dermonecrotizing toxin is formed, which is responsible for nasal turbinate atrophy in young pigs and may be important in other species.

Diseases caused

  • Atrophic rhinitis (in conjunction with Pasturella multocida) and bronchopneumonia in pigs.
  • Canine infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) in dogs. This may be in association with viruses.
  • Upper or lower respiratory tract infection in rabbits, guinea pigs and rats (may also cause septicemia).
  • Rare human infections. More common in immunocompromized patients.
  • Respiratory disease in cats Bordetella bronchiseptica infection and horses.

Other Host Effects

  • Commensal in upper respiratory tract.


Control via chemotherapies

  • In vitro tests have found feline isolates of Bordetella bronchiseptica to be sensitive to tetracyclines and fluoroquinolone.
  • Atrophic rhinitis is untreatable.
  • Kennel cough responds poorly to antibiotics; most isolates sensitive in vitro to tetracyclines Tetracycline, chloramphenicol Chloramphenicol and fluoroquinolones Enrofloxacin.


  • Intranasal and systemic vaccines available for cats in most countries, eg Nobivac Bb or Protex Bb (Intervet). 
  • Intranasal vaccine also available for dogs.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Williams J, Laris R, Gray A W et al (2002) Studies of the efficacy of a novel intranasal vaccine against feline bordetellosis. Vet Rec 150 (14), 439-442 PubMed.
  • Binns S H, Dawson S, Speakman A J et al (1999) Prevalence and risk factors for feline Bordetella bronchiseptica infection. Vet Rec 144 (21), 575-580 PubMed.
  • Dawson S & Willoughby K (1999) Feline infectious upper respiratory tract disease - an update. In Practice 21 (5), 232-237 VetMedResource.
  • Binns S H, Speakman A J, Dawson S et al (1998) The use of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to examine the epidemiology of Bordetella bronchispectia isolated from cats and other species. Epidermiol Infect 120 (2), 201-208 PubMed.
  • Welsh R D (1996) Bordetella bronchiseptica infections in cats. JAAHA 32 (2), 153-158 PubMed.
  • Bemis D A (1992) Bordetella and Mycoplasma respiratory infections in dogs and cats. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 22 (5), 1173-1186 PubMed.

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