A child was airlifted to hospital after being stabbed in the chest by a catfish in New Port Richey, Florida.
The child was listed as a trauma alert after firefighters responded to a 911 call from his mother, who was driving him to the hospital when he began to struggle to breathe.
Pasco Fire Rescue posted about the incident on Twitter on Monday at around 2 p.m, writing: “Child listed as a trauma alert after being stabbed in the chest by a catfish. While headed to the hospital with their mother, the child experienced difficulty breathing. Firefighters responded and listed the child as a trauma alert.”
According to firefighters who spoke to FOX 13, a barb from the catfish went about 1.5 inches deep into the child’s chest while on a fishing trip.
The boy’s mother began to drive her son to the hospital using the US-19 North but was forced to pull over on the side of the road and dial 911 after he suffered difficulty breathing.
Pasco Fire Rescue provided an online update just before 3 p.m., explaining that the child was being airlifted to St. Joseph’s Children Hospital in Tampa to receive immediate treatment. The boy is now reportedly in a stable condition.
The barb on the spines of catfish will at times need to be surgically removed if they cut the skin, according to a 2013 publication in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.
It’s unclear as to whether or not the catfish in question was venomous, but a 2009 study found that at least 1,250 species of catfish are in fact venomous. Although those in North America are not fatal, the stings can inflict noticeable pain on humans.
Venom glands of catfish are found in the sharp and bony spines on the edges of fins and can lock into place when the fish feel threatened. When it jabs, the membrane around the venom gland cells is torn, which releases venom into the wound.
According to the study however, the main health risk when it comes to the venom is from the sting itself, but the secondary infections that can occur in the wound after or when pieces of the spine break off inside the wound.
“In such cases, complications associated with these infections and foreign bodies can last several months,” University of Michigan graduate student Jeremy Wright, who led the research, told Live Science in 2009.