Bordetella bronchiseptica is a type of bacteria that, when inside of a cat, can cause respiratory illness. There are vaccines and antibiotics that can cure infections caused by this bacteria, but cat owners should still know exactly how this bacteria can affect their pet. Our Benton vets discuss Bordetella in cats and some symptoms and treatments.
What is Bordetella?
Bordetella bronchiseptica is a type of bacteria responsible for many kinds of respiratory disease in animals, including domestic pets. It's linked to Bordetella pertussis, which causes a "whooping cough" in humans. This means that it is transmittable between animals and humans, which makes it a difficult bacteria to deal with.
If your cat is infected with Bordetella, it is important to understand its properties, how it spreads, and how it is treated.
How Bordetella Spreads
Cats infected with Bordetella spread germs through nasal secretions and saliva when they sneeze. This makes transmission through contact quite common.
Bordetella can survive in the environment for up to 2 weeks. Your cat's surroundings, bedding, grooming equipment, food bowls and other items may all be sources of illness if not properly cleaned and disinfected.
Symptoms of Bordetella in Cats
Common symptoms of infection caused by Bordetella in cats includes:
- Nasal and ocular discharge
- Mild sneezing in cats circumstances
In rarer circumstances - usually in kittens or cats with weak immune systems due to illness or stress - the Bordetella infection can lead to more severe illness and sometimes death. This is why it is vital to take your cat to the vet when you notice persistence of any of the above symptoms. Bordetella symptoms will usually persist for 7 to 10 days.
Diagnosing Bordetella in Cats
The bacterium is detected in a laboratory using swabs collected from the pharynx. Bacterial culture (using a particular culture medium) or PCR (polymerase chain reaction - a molecular technique for detecting the bacterium's genetic material) can also be used to identify the bacterium.
Treatment for Bordetella in Cats
There is treatment for Bordetella in cats!
Antibacterial medicines are typically extremely successful in treating infections. Such medicines include Doxycycline (or maybe a fluoroquinolone antibiotic), which is likely to be the most effective treatment. However, because certain bacteria are resistant to some antibiotics, it is often preferable to do sensitivity testing in a laboratory. Bear in mind, though, that an extremely severe infection may require additional supportive care and hospitalization.
Most Bordetella infections are considered mild, and no special precautions are required for most cats since the risk of infection and serious illness is minimal.
A good and effective vaccine for Bordetella is available at most vets and is the best way to prevent infection.