Pathogen Safety Data Sheets: Infectious Substances – Bordetella bronchiseptica



NAME: Bordetella bronchiseptica

SYNONYM OR CROSS REFERENCE: Kennel cough (dogs) Footnote 1, Haemophilus bronchiseptica Footnote 2, Haemophilus bronchisepticus, Brucella bronchiseptica, Bacillus suisepticus, Alcaligenes bronchicanis, Bacillus bronchisepticus, Alcaligenes bronchisepticus, and atrophic rhinitis (swine) Footnote 3.

CHARACTERISTICS: B. bronchoseptica, of the Alcaligenaceae family, are small, motile, Gram-negative coccobacilli sized around 0.2-0.5 µm by 0.5-2 µm, and can be found singly or in pairs Footnote 4Footnote 5. This strict aerobe is motile by peritrichous flagella and is capable of growing rapidly at 35oC to 37oC Footnote 4Footnote 5 and is relatively simple in its nutritional requirements as compared to other Bordetella species Footnote 5. Carbohydrate fermentation is not observed Footnote 4.


PATHOGENICITY/TOXICITY: B. bronchiseptica is primarily a respiratory tract pathogen found in a variety of animals Footnote 5. It causes atrophic rhinitis in swine, kennel cough in dogs, with nasal turbinate inflammation and turbinate atrophy Footnote 4Footnote 6. It has been implicated as an infrequent cause of infection in humans, primarily in immunocompromised patients exposed to infected animals, although infections have also been reported in immunocompetent individuals as well Footnote 2Footnote 5Footnote 6. Woolfrey et al., 1991 described 25 patients with B. bronchiseptica infections, 56% of whom had a immunocompromising factor and all except 3 had an exposure to an infected animal Footnote 2Footnote 6. These individuals presented with varied clinical manifestations such as nosocomial tracheobronchitis, acute maxillary sinusitis, peritonitis, septicemia and bacteremia in immunocompromised individuals and whooping cough/pertussis-like disease in healthy individuals Footnote 2Footnote 6. Many B. bronchiseptica infections have been reported in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients Footnote 6, as Dworkin et al., 1999 described 9 patients with B. bronchiseptica infections, all of whom had at least one AIDS defining condition Footnote 7. These patients presented with pneumonia, sinusitis or bronchitis. Two cases of meningitis with B. bronchiseptica have also been reported Footnote 2Footnote 8. Severe cases of illness due to B. bronchiseptica are often found to be co-infections with toxigenic Pasteurella multocida Footnote 4.

EPIDEMIOLOGY: B. bronchiseptica is of worldwide prevalence as it is a commensal organism of the respiratory tract in humans Footnote 4. However, it is rarely implicated in human infections, and is mainly observed to cause illness in those who are immunocompromised.

HOST RANGE: B. bronchiseptica causes respiratory tract disease mainly in animals such as dogs, swine, cats, rats, mice, ferrets, foxes, turkeys, monkeys, sheep, skunks, guinea pigs, raccoons, horses, hedgehogs and rabbits, and occasionally in humans Footnote 4-Footnote 6. The most important and best described natural infections occur in dogs and pigs Footnote 6.


MODE OF TRANSMISSION: Transmission can occur through direct contact with respiratory secretions, fomites, or inhalation of infected aerosol Footnote 6Footnote 9Footnote 10.

INCUBATION PERIOD: Unknown; however, one report described a 5 year old girl who became sick 10-12 days after being exposed to an infected rabbit Footnote 6.

COMMUNICABILITY: Transmission between humans may be possible via respiratory droplets Footnote 9.


RESERVOIR: Primary reservoir is not known. Found in domestic and wild animals. It can also exist as a free living organism in lake water Footnote 6.

ZOONOSIS: Yes. B. bronchiseptica infection can be transmitted to humans from infected animals by aerosols carrying the infectious agent Footnote 6Footnote 9Footnote 10.



DRUG SUSCEPTIBILITY/RESISTANCE: Susceptible in vitro to aminoglycosides (amikacin, gentamicin, and tobramycin), penicillins such as azlocillin, mezlocillin, piperacillin, and ticarcillin, broad septrum cephalosporins, tetracyclines Footnote 2Footnote 11, erythromycin, choramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole Footnote 4.

DRUG RESISTANCE: B. bronchiseptica strains are usually resistant to streptomycin Footnote 2, primary penicillins such as penicillin G and ampicillin Footnote 2, miocycline Footnote 2, erythromycin Footnote 6, ceftriaxone Footnote 10.

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISINFECTANTS: Information specific to B. bronciseptica is not available, but most vegetative bacteria have been shown to be susceptible to low concentrations of chlorine (<1ppm) Footnote 12-Footnote 14, 70% ethanol Footnote 12, phenolics such as orthophenylphenol and ortho-benzyl-para-chlorophenol Footnote 14, 2% aqueous glutaraldehyde Footnote 14, peracetic acid (0.001% to 0.2%) Footnote 14.

PHYSICAL INACTIVATION: Information specific to B. bronchiseptica in not available, but most vegetative bacteria can be inactivated by moist heat (121°C for 15 min- 30 min) and dry heat (160-170°C for 1-2 hours) Footnote 15.

SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: Bordetella species survive only for a few hours in respiratory secretions Footnote 10. B. bronchiseptica has been shown to survive for 24 weeks in phosphate-buffered saline and lake water at 10°C and at 37°C, without any nutritional supplement Footnote 1. B. bronchiseptica can also survive in soil for 45 days.


SURVEILLANCE: Monitor for symptoms. Diagnosis can be made by culturing the bacteria from clinical specimens, or via molecular methods such as PCR Footnote 6. MacConkey agar or Regan-Lowe agar (RL agar) media can be used for culturing B. bronchiseptica from clinical specimens. Since B. bronchiseptica is sensitive to cephalexin, cephalexin is replaced by methicillin or oxacillin in the RL agar media to allow its growth.

Note: All diagnostic methods may not necessarily be available in all countries.

FIRST AID/TREATMENT: Administer appropriate drug therapy. No specific guidelines have been described for the treatment of B. bronchiseptica Footnote 10. Patients are generally treated with aminoglycosides, extended-spectrum third-generation penicillin, tetracycline, and susceptibility to quinolone and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is variable but it can generally be administered to children as oral treatment Footnote 6Footnote 10. Antibiotics course of 2 to 4 weeks is recommended to treat the disease Footnote 10. Longer courses, of up to 6 months, have been required for treatment in some patients.Footnote 10

IMMUNISATION: None available for humans. Two veterinary vaccines are available: an avirulent live intranasal vaccine and a subcutaneous antigen extract vaccine Footnote 11.

PROPHYLAXIS: None available. Since B. bronchiseptica causes serious infections in immunocompromised individuals, these individuals should avoid contact with infected animals Footnote 6Footnote 16.


LABORATORY-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS: Two cases of possible B. bronchiseptica infection (one with chronic rhinorrhea and the other with influenza like illness) were reported in animal caretakers Footnote 17. B. bronchiseptica infection was also reported in a laboratory worker who handled rabbits and guinea pigs, and suffered from chronic nasal symptoms with acute exacerbations for 18 months Footnote 6.

SOURCE/SPECIMENS: Nasopharyngeal secretions, sputum samples, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, or blood Footnote 2Footnote 10.

PRIMARY HAZARDS: Exposure of mucous membranes via infectious aerosols Footnote 6.

SPECIAL HAZARDS: B. bronchiseptica is a frequent cause of respiratory tract infections in laboratory animals Footnote 6. Animal caretakers may acquire the infection through contact with infected animals through infectious aerosols Footnote 6Footnote 17.


RISK GROUP CLASSIFICATION: Risk Group 2 Footnote 18.

CONTAINMENT REQUIREMENTS: Containment Level 2 facilities, equipment, and operational practices for work involving infectious or potentially infectious materials, animals, or cultures.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING: Lab coat. Gloves when direct skin contact with infected materials or animals is unavoidable. Eye protection must be used where there is a known or potential risk of exposure to splashes Footnote 19.

OTHER PRECAUTIONS: All procedures that may produce aerosols, or involve high concentrations or large volumes should be conducted in a biological safety cabinet (BSC). The use of needles, syringes, and other sharp objects should be strictly limited. Additional precautions should be considered with work involving animals or large scale activities Footnote 19.


SPILLS: Allow aerosols to settle and, wearing protective clothing, gently cover spill with paper towels and apply an appropriate disinfectant, starting at the perimeter and working towards the centre. Allow sufficient contact time before clean up.

DISPOSAL: Decontaminate all wastes that contain or have come in contact with the infectious organism by autoclave, chemical disinfection, gamma irradiation, or incineration before disposing Footnote 19.

STORAGE: The infectious agent should be stored in leak-proof containers that are appropriately labelled Footnote 19.


REGULATORY INFORMATION: The import, transport, and use of pathogens in Canada is regulated under many regulatory bodies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Environment Canada, and Transport Canada. Users are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with all relevant acts, regulations, guidelines, and standards.

UPDATED: November 2010

PREPARED BY: Pathogen Regulation Directorate, Public Health Agency of Canada

Although the information, opinions and recommendations contained in this Pathogen Safety Data sheet are compiled from sources believed to be reliable, we accept no responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability or for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information. Newly discovered hazards are frequent and this information may not be completely up to date.

Copyright ©
Public Health Agency of Canada, 2010

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