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Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella bronchiseptica in cats is a bacterium that can cause an upper respiratory illness. It is mostly a concern in environments where cats are maintained in large groupings, such as rescue shelters and some breeding houses. Antibiotics may successfully cure infections, and an effective vaccination is available in many areas. Today, our Ocala vets discuss cat bordetella and what you can do to spot and stop it.

What is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica causes respiratory illness in a wide range of animals. It has been linked to Bordetella pertussis, which causes "whooping cough" in humans, and is therefore classified as a rare zoonosis (disease transmissible from animals to humans). It is a disease-causing agent in dogs, cats, pigs, and rabbits, and can occasionally cause illness in humans.

How is Bordetella Spread?

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica shed germs via their saliva and nasal secretions (as well as droplets when they sneeze),. Therefore, direct touch or inhalation is an efficient method of transmission.

Although the bacteria are susceptible to disinfectants, they are likely to survive for 1-2 weeks in the environment. If not maintained and meticulously cleaned, the surroundings, bedding, food bowls, grooming equipment, and so on can all be sources of illness.

What are the symptoms of Bordetella in cats?

Bordetella infection causes mild sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and fever in cats. However, in rare cases (particularly in young kittens and under extreme stress), the infection can be fatal. Symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days.

How is Bordetella in cats diagnosed?

The bacterium is detected in a laboratory using pharyngeal swabs. To identify the bacterium, bacterial culture (using a specific culture medium) or PCR (polymerase chain reaction - a molecular technique for detecting the bacterium's genetic material) can be used.

Is there treatment for bordetella in cats?

There is, indeed! In most cases, antibacterial medications are extremely effective at treating infections. Doxycycline (or possibly a fluoroquinolone antibiotic) is one such medication that is likely to be the most effective treatment. However, because some bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics, sensitivity testing in a laboratory is often preferable. However, keep in mind that a severe infection may necessitate 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.

However, it is never a guarantee that there will be minimal risk. A good and effective vaccine is available (vaccination is administered by drops in the nose), and this is an important aspect of disease prevention.

Do you believe your cat is suffering from bordetella? Contact our Ocala vets today for diagnosis and treatment options.

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