In dogs and other species B. bronchiseptica attaches to the cilia of the respiratory epithelium, thus overcoming the mucociliary clearance apparatus and allowing the bacteria to colonise the respiratory tract. In dogs this leads to tracheobronchitis, i.e. 'kennel cough'.

In studies in cats where Bordetella is known to be the sole pathogen, the clinical signs may be seen:

In general, coughing is less of a feature of the disease in cats than in dogs. Signs generally resolve after about 10 days.

Undoubtedly, combined infections with the respiratory viruses and stress factors such as weaning, overcrowding, poor hygiene and ventilation all play a role in B. bronchiseptica infections. Such factors may account for the severe cases of bronchopneumonia that have been reported in the field.

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