2-Year-Old Sioux Falls Girl Dies From Flu

Family members of 2-year-old from Sioux Falls say the little girl died from the flu.

Last week, state officials reported that 12 people had died from influenza in South Dakota this season, most of them were elderly adults.

On average, about 20,000 people in the United States die from the flu each year. Only a small percentage of those are children. But according to one South Dakota family, it happened to one of theirs.

Although it’s more likely to happen among the elderly, Dr. Archana Chatterjee who specializes in Pediatric Infectious Disease at Sanford Children’s Hospital says children can die from the flu.

Dr. Chatterjee said, “There’s bout 50 children around the country that die from influenza. About half of them have some underlying medical condition and the other half are actually healthy.”

According to a Go Fund Me website page, 2-year-old Gianna Wehrkamp was exactly that: a happy, healthy little girl. It says that all changed on Friday when she came down with flu-like symptoms. The web page says she started running a temperature of 103. It say Gianna’s mom took her to the doctor that morning, which is what Dr. Chatterjee suggests in this type of situation.

“What people should be looking at is whether the child can eat or drink, whether they’re breathing okay, if they’re not sleeping well, if they have a high fever or if they have a rapidly increasing fever, that’s another thing that, a clue that the child does need medical attention,” said Dr. Chatterjee.

The page says Gianna had influenza A and was put on Tamiflu. According to the page, Gianna’s mom woke up at 3 a.m. the next morning, to find her not breathing. She was rushed to the hospital by ambulance but it was too late. At 11:30 a.m., she passed away.

Dr. Chatterjee said, “Normal healthy people including children can and do get very severe infection with influenza and sometimes end up dying from it.”

Gianna’s death hasn’t been confirmed by state officials yet, but if it’s the case, influenza will have claimed it’s 13th victim in South Dakota this season.

Dr. Chatterjee says the flu is considered widespread in South Dakota. They have been seeing a lot of the Influenza A H3H2 strain, which is why the symptoms seam to be more severe. They’ve also seen the flu come a lot earlier this season, which began in December rather than January or February.


State health officials say a 2-year-old Sioux Falls girl is the 13th person to die from the flu in South Dakota.

An epidemiologist for the state Department of Health says it was the first pediatric death to occur this flu season.

The department says the number of influenza deaths increased to 12 confirmed cases last week. It says there were only three flu-related deaths in the state the week before.

The Department of Health says the number of flu-related hospitalizations also has doubled. It reported 245 total hospitalizations on Jan. 9, up from 121 hospitalizations listed on a Jan. 2 report.

The department says the number of confirmed flu cases jumped from 281 to 480 within that one-week period.