Diagnosis of Bordetella bronchiseptica infection in cats

Disease caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) cannot be diagnosed solely by visual or physical examination.

Many of the clinical signs of Bordetella bronchiseptica infection in cats (with the exception of coughing) mimic those seen with other respiratory pathogens. Response to antibiotic treatment may provide limited supportive evidence of involvement of a bacterial pathogen in the disease.

Bb infection is best diagnosed from oro-pharyngeal swabs, or from swabs of nasal discharge of affected cats. Samples should be taken using sterile cotton wool swabs placed into charcoal transport medium before plating on to a selective medium such as Bordet-Gengou.

Chronic carrier cats often shed relatively few organisms and require repeated oro-pharyngeal culturing. Furthermore, isolation (as with viral respiratory pathogens) does not confirm that the bacterium is the causative agent of the URTD.

Bacteria from oro-pharyngeal swabs are plated on selective medium.

Bacteria from oro-pharyngeal swabs are plated on selective medium.