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Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella bronchiseptica in cats is caused by a bacterium that causes upper respiratory infections and is most commonly spread in settings with high numbers of cats. Today, our Citrus Heights vets discuss Bordetella in cats and how it can be managed and treated.

Bordetella in Cats

Bordetella bronchiseptica causes a number of highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect a variety of animals. It is linked to Bordetella pertussis, which causes "whooping cough" in humans, and is thus categorized as a rare zoonosis (disease transmissible from animals to humans). It is a disease-causing agent in dogs (one of the major causes of 'kennel cough'), cats, pigs, and rabbits, and can occasionally cause sickness in humans.

How Bordetella in Cats in Transmitted

Cats infected with B. bronchiseptica shed germs via their saliva and nasal secretions (as well as droplets when they sneeze). This means that direct contact is the main method of transmission although it can also be spread through breathing in the infected droplets from the cough of other animals.

Although the bacteria are vulnerable to disinfectants, they are likely to persist in the environment for 1-2 weeks. The surroundings, bedding, food bowls, grooming equipment, and so on may all be sources of illness if not maintained and meticulously cleaned.

The Most Common Symptoms of Bordetella in Cats

In cats, the bordetella infection causes mild sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and fever. However, in rare situations, especially with high-risk animals, the infection may be more serious and end in death. On average the illness will last approximately 7 to 10 days in healthy animals.

Diagnostic Method For 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 Options For Bordetella in Cats

If your cat has contracted Bordetella your vet will most likely recommend antibacterial medicines that 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.

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.

Is your feline friend showing the signs of a Bordetella infection? Contact our Citrus Heights vets today for diagnosis and treatment options.

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Family Friends Veterinary Hospital is happy to accept new patients! Our vets are passionate about improving the health of Citrus Heights companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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