COLORADO SPRINGS — The Vanguard School in Colorado Springs is mourning the loss of one of its students amid a croup outbreak that began in mid April.
Head of School Renee Henslee called the situation heartbreaking.
“As a school, we are respecting the privacy of the family and allowing our community to mourn this unfortunate loss,” Henslee wrote to FOX21. “We have been told that there is not a greater risk to the broader community at this point in time.”
The state health department is investigating the outbreak and is also providing guidance related to infection control, staying home while sick, and increased cleaning in the school, spokesperson Jessica Bralish said.
“So far, there have been 11 students diagnosed with croup, of which seven cases had confirmed lab tests for parainfluenza,” Bralish said. “Of the seven parainfluenza cases, two were hospitalized.”
In order to protect the identity of the affected students, information pertaining to their classes and ages are being witheld.
Doctor Mike DeStefano is the Chief Medical Officer at Childrens Hospital Colorado at Colorado Springs.
“Croup can cause death, but it’s extremely, extremely rare,” DeStefano said, noting that croup and parainfluenza cases happen most often at this time of year – early spring into summer. “It usually starts off with a typical upper-respiratory infection. Kids will have a runny nose, they’ll have congestion, they’ll have some degree of laryngitis – so, hoarseness in their voice.”
But, he said, croup is a little bit different.
“There is a degree of swelling that happens in the larynx, which is basically in your airway between your chest and your chin. And that swelling is what gives kids problems breathing,” he said. “That’s what we get most concerned about as physcians and as parents – is the trouble breathing.”
DeStefano said there are several symptoms parents should be aware of when their children are fighting off respiratory ailments:
- Stridor: High-pitched, wheezing sound on inhale
- Spreading of ribs, when breathing
- Tugging at base of neck, when breathing
It can be stressful to see a child struggle to breathe, DeStefano said. But it’s important to try to keep him or her calm – and, he said, there are some treatments you can try at home.
“You can put them in a bathroom and basically create a steam shower. That sometimes helps relieve some of that stridor noise. If it’s a cool night, you can bring them outside as well” DeStefano said.
He is also encouraging parents to seek help when needed. “I do want to stress that if there is any difficulty breathing, [parents] need to seek a healthcare provider to evaluate and treat the patient,” he said.
Doctors can administer steroids in kids with more severe cases of croup or provide alternate breathing treatments when necessary.