Croup associated with COVID-19: A case series

JEM Rep. 2023 Mar;2(1):100011. doi: 10.1016/j.jemrpt.2023.100011. Epub 2023 Feb 4.


Background: Croup encounters substantially decreased when the pandemic first began, specifically between March and September 2020, before croup cases dramatically spiked again with the Omicron variant. There is a dearth of information concerning children at risk for severe or refractory COVID-19-associated croup and their outcomes.

Objective: The objective of this case series was to describe the clinical characteristics and outcomes of croup associated with the Omicron variant in children, with a focus on cases refractory to treatment.

Methods: The case series includes children from birth to 18 years old who presented to a freestanding children's hospital emergency department in the Southeastern United States between December 1, 2021 and January 31, 2022 with a diagnosis of croup and a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. We used descriptive statistics to summarize patient characteristics and outcomes.

Results: Of the total 81 patient encounters, 59 patients (72.8%) were discharged from the ED, with one patient requiring two revisits to the hospital. Nineteen patients (23.5%) were admitted to the hospital, and three of these patients represented to the hospital after discharge from the hospital. Three patients (3.7%) were admitted to the intensive care unit, none of whom represented after discharge.

Conclusions: This study reveals a wide age range of presentation as well as a relatively higher rate of admission and fewer coinfections compared to pre-pandemic croup. Reassuringly, the results also show a low postadmission intervention rate as well as a low revisit rate. We discuss four refractory cases to highlight nuances for management and disposition decisions.

Keywords: COVID-19; Croup; Laryngotracheitis; Omicron; Stridor.