Bordetella Bronchiseptica in Cats
Until recently, Bordetellabronchiseptica
was considered an uncommon cause of respiratory disease
in cats, and then only as a secondary agent. Today, it appears
to be a primary respiratory pathogen in cats. Challenges
to specific-pathogen-free kittens have produced clinical signs;
however, prevalence of the disease and its pathogenesis in
natural infections is not known.
Several studies have created data that suggest
exposure to B. bronchiseptica is common. In selecting
cats suitable for their study, Jacobs et al. (1993) had a
difficult time finding cats that were seronegative for the
organism. A second study showed the possibility of carrier
cats with the initiation of shedding of the organism after
a stressful event; shedding began after parturition. In this
study, the kittens of the queens did not develop clinical
disease and did not seroconvert. The possibility however
exists that if the kittens become infected with another respiratory
pathogen, such as feline calicivirus or feline herpesvirus,
they could also be exposed to Bordetella, which could
then opportunistically invade and possibly increase the severity
of respiratory disease in the kitten.
The clinical signs seen with primary Bordetellainfections
include fever, listlessness, sneezing, ocular and nasal discharges,
submandibularlymphadenopathy, increased lung sounds, and coughing.
Unfortunately, these signs are seen with many respiratory
pathogens. Bordetellabronchiseptica can also
be associated with other respiratory agents, such as feline
rhinotracheitis virus and feline calicivirus. To diagnose
B. bronchiseptica, oropharyngeal and/or nasal swabs
are needed for bacterial culture. Transtracheal washes have
also been used. Isolation of the organism is commonly successful
if the cat is showing clinical signs. Carrier cats, on the
other hand, are more difficult to diagnose, because the organism
is shed only intermittently.
So where is Bordetellosis being seen? There
have been reports of outbreaks in catteries, shelters and
multi-cat households. Many other respiratory diseases thrive
in these environments as well, so it is not surprising that
this is where B. bronchiseptica is also being found.
A focus has been made on the prevention of Bordetellosis.
Recently an intranasal vaccine for cats has been developed
and licensed. However, there is still much research to be
done to better understand this disease, its etiology and prevalence.
-by Cathy Berquist, Class of 2000
-edited by LavunAnothayanontha, DVM