More than 85% of the cases of LTB are caused by a virus. Parainfluenza 1, 2, and 3 viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and rhinoviruses are the most common causes. The measles virus or bacterial infections such as pertussis and diphtheria are occasionally the cause. Epiglottitis, a life-threatening emergency caused by acute inflammation of the epiglottis and surrounding area, differs from LTB because it usually results from infection with the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type B.

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