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Bordetella is a genus of gram negative coccobacilli, which are encapsulated. They are non-motile except B. bronchiseptica and are obligate aerobes except B. petrii. They are highly fastidious.


Route of entry
Bordetella infects only humans and is transmitted by air borne droplets.

  • Capsule is antiphagocytic
  • Organism produces pigment
  • Hemaggluttinin, facilitates attachment to the cilia of the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract.
  • Adenylate cyclase is taken up by phagocytic cells and inhibits their bactericidal activity.
  • Pertussis-toxin inhibits signal transduction by chemokine receptors, therefore lymphocytes cannot enter lymphoid tissue.
  • This stimulates adenylate cyclase by catalyizing ADP-ribosylation of inhibitory submit of G-proteins complex (Gx).
  • Toxin also binds to receptors on the surface of the respiratory tract epithelial cells.

Virulence factors
•    Filamentous hemagglutinin
•    Pertussis toxin
•    Adenylate cytotoxin
•    Capsule

Predisposing factors
•    Infants and young children
•    Immunocompromised

Clinical symptoms
•    Whooping cough
•    Severe paroxysmal cough (1-4 week)

  • Series of hacking coughs
  • Massive amounts of mucus

•    Leukocytosis up to 70%
•    Exhaustion due to cough
•    Pneumonia

Lab- Diagnosis

•    Nasopharyngeal  secretions collected by aspiration
•    Per nasal swab

•    Gram negative coccobacillus
•    Non-motile
•    Capsulated

Bordetella bronchiseptica
Bordetella bronchiseptica

•    Strict aerobes

Charcoal cephalexin blood agar  
Small pearly grey, shiny, mucoid colonies are formed.

Biochemical tests

•    Urease                     negative
•    Does not reduce     nitrate
•    Oxidase                    positive

Serological tests

•    Fluorescent- antibody staining
•    PCR


  • Erythromycin
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Suction of mucus

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