Bordetella

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Guidance for Personnel Working with Rabbits, Cats, and Dogs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

What is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica, is the bacterium that causes "kennel cough in dogs, "snuffles" in rabbits and respiratory disease in cats. It is an uncommon infection in humans that can produce a relatively non-threatening "whooping-cough"-like syndrome in immunocompetent individuals. However, it has also been associated with endocarditis, peritonitis, meningitis and wound infections.

How is Bordetella spread?

Bordetella infections can be transmitted from infected animals to humans by inhalation of infected aerosol droplets. The incubation period is 3-10 days, but the infected animal can shed the bacteria for 3-4 months after apparent recovery.

Who is at risk for infection?

Infection is uncommon and rarely serious in immunocomptetent individuals. However, persons with a weakened immune system are at higher risk.

Is Bordetella infection serious?

B. brochiseptica rarely infects healthy humans. It can produce a relatively non-threatening "whooping-cough"-like syndrome in immunocompetent individuals. However, it has also been associated with endocarditis, peritonitis, meningitis and wound infections.

How can I protect myself?

  1. Gloves, shoe covers and long sleeved apparel should be worn at all times when working with dogs.
  2. Thoroughly wash hands after handling animals.
  3. Sanitize lab/surgical areas after animal work.
  4. Use disposable supplies whenever possible.

What are the signs of Bordetella infection?

Symptoms of infection include upper respiratory tract signs such as sneezing and watery eyes, nasal discharge and in dogs, the presence of a harsh "honking" cough.

 What do I do if an exposure or injury occurs?

Exposure to aerosols, bites or scratches involving animals or injuries from objects contaminated with body fluids from animals require immediate first aid and medical attention. Notify your supervisor! Then, contact the University Police Department at 593-2611 or dial 911.

This page was last updated on: January 24, 2017