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J Infect Dis. 2008 Aug 1;198(3):384-92. doi: 10.1086/589713.

Infection with Bordetella parapertussis but not Bordetella pertussis causes pertussis-like disease in older pigs.

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  • 1Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


The 3 major Bordetella species--namely, B. pertussis, B. parapertussis, and B. bronchiseptica--can be distinguished by their different host ranges. B. bronchiseptica infects a wide range of mammals (including humans), whereas B. pertussis infects only humans and, under experimental conditions, mice and pigs. In contrast, B. parapertussis, also a causative agent of pertussis, displays a unique host specificity with 2 subgroups, one infecting only humans and the other infecting only sheep. Here, we show that both strains of B. parapertussis also infect older piglets when delivered intrapulmonarily. Infected piglets displayed mild fever and respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and breathing difficulties. Importantly, transmission was observed between infected and noninfected piglets. In tracheal organ cultures, adherence to ciliated epithelial cells was observed. Furthermore, both strains of B. parapertussis displayed higher resistance than B. pertussis to neutralization by porcine beta-defensin 1 in the respiratory tract, which has been demonstrated to be associated with protection against B. pertussis disease in older pigs. The development of this new model will assist us in better understanding the pathogenesis of this disease and in the development of more-effective vaccines against pertussis.

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