SF Family Urges Others To Take Flu Seriously

One week afer losing two-year-old girl to illness

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It’s been a little over a week since the Influenza A virus took the life of a Sioux Falls girl

Less than 24 hours after exhibiting flu symptoms, two-and-a-half-year-old Gianna Wehrkamp was gone, leaving her family in shock.

Gianna’s aunt, Alice Morgan, says that things took a turn for the worse for Gianna faster than anyone could’ve predicted.

Now, Morgan is urging other families to be watchful of their children during the flu season.

“It all just happened so fast,” said Alice Morgan.

It’s a shock to Gianna’s family that their beautiful, rambunctious, once healthy little girl is now gone.

Morgan said, “She just had this personality that was larger than life. And everywhere we went, people would walk up to my sister and say how beautiful they thought she was.”

Gianna began to have flu-like symptoms on Friday, January 9, and less than a day later she was gone.

“Obviously, no possible way to predict that any of this would’ve happened, and it’s been pretty, pretty awful,” said Morgan.

But amidst the pain Gianna’s family is feeling, they are trying to prevent others from experiencing a similar loss.

Morgan said, “Hopefully that if by telling this story…to watch parents, and family members and friends to be vigilant about the symptoms of influenza.”

To help prevent catching or spreading the flu, doctors recommend frequent and thorough hand-washing, and being aware of surfaces you touch.  

“One of the most important things is, if you feel your child or someone is sick, to not wait. If you think you’re sick get to the doctor,” said Morgan.

Gianna’s story is already touching many people, a lot more than her aunt ever expected.

Morgan said, “The wake, the night before on Thursday night, there was somewhere between four and five hundred people just at the wake.”

The family has also received numerous Facebook messages, emails, and phone calls offering support.

Morgan said, “We know that people are definitely talking about it, which is good.”

Morgan says though the circumstances are awful, she is glad that so many people are taking Gianna’s story to heart.

“Just by us telling this story, if it will help one family on this earth to not have to go through what we’ve been through then it will be worth it,” said Morgan.

A GoFundMe site has been setup to help Gianna’s family with medical expenses.

The family is also working on some sort of memorial for Gianna and hope to eventually donate to children’s charities.

But their ultimate goal is to simply spread the story of their beloved child.

Gianna is the 13th person to die from the flu in South Dakota this season.