Bordetella bronchiseptica associated upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) is a complex disease. There is a considerable overlap between the clinical signs seen with other agents that can cause URTD, including feline calici virus (FCV) and feline herpes virus (FHV).
In most cats the disease caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) is mild and signs disappear after about 10 days. Life-threatening bronchopneumonia may develop particularly in young kittens.
In studies in cats where Bb is known to be the only causative agent, clinical signs of disease typically include fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, submandibular lymphadenopathy, and râles.
Coughing, although frequently reported in cats, does not seem to be as characteristic a feature as in Bb infection of dogs. Unlike most cases of infectious URTD in cats acute deaths occur, particularly in young kittens, when the disease progresses to bronchopneumonia.
Some cats may become long-term carriers and recovered cats have been shown to shed Bb for at least 19 weeks after initial exposure.
Clinical signs of Bordetella bronchiseptica infection can be difficult to distinguish from those caused by the respiratory viruses.