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Croup refers to several fairly common respiratory illnesses caused by various viral infections. It is usually seen in young children between 3 months and 3 years of age.

What causes croup?

Many different viruses. A child may develop croup more than once. Not all persons exposed develop croup symptoms.

How is croup spread?

Through secretions from an infected person’s nose and mouth or hands, tissues or other items soiled with these secretions.

What are the symptoms of croup?

Mild cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever may occur one to several days before symptoms of croup begin. Then hoarseness and a deepening non-productive cough (sounding like a barking seal) develop. Rapid breathing, sitting forward in the bed to cough, or making a noise when taking a breath may also occur. Symptoms get better during the day and worse at night. The illness lasts 3 to 4 days, but the cough may last longer. 

How long is it contagious?

From shortly before symptoms start and as long as acute symptoms continue

How can I prevent infection?

  1. Frequent, careful hand washing by child care staff, children and household members.
  2. Cough/sneeze into your sleeve or cover nose and mouth with tissue. Dispose of used tissues.
  3. Clean, rinse with clean water, then sanitize mouthed toys at least daily and when soiled.
  4. Do not expose child to secondhand tobacco smoke. The risk for developing serious respiratory infections and middle ear infections increases with exposure to smoke.

For more information, please call the Northern Kentucky Health Department at 859.363.2070 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. 

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Revised July 2015