A child in Florida was rushed to a hospital on Monday after being stabbed in the chest by a catfish, according to officials.
On the way to the hospital with the mother, the child experienced difficulty breathing, prompting the mom to pull over on “US-19 to call for help,” according to a Facebook post from Pasco County Fire Rescue.
Firefighters responded to the call, listing the child as a trauma alert after evaluating that the catfish barb was “lodged approximately 1-1.5 inches in the child’s chest.”
The child was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa.
Corey Dierdorff, a spokesperson for Pasco County Fire Rescue, told Tampa Bay Times it was unknown whether the catfish was venomous. “That’s another reason they transported in the way that they did,” he said.
Dierdorff also noted it was not clear how the child was stabbed by the catfish, calling the incident “odd.”
“I’ve never heard of something like that,” he said. “You hear of fisherman that might be cut by a barb or hit in the back of the leg and get an infection, but never heard of one penetrating the chest.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently warned fishermen about the Hardhead Catfish and Gafftopsail Catfish, commonly found in Southwest Florida. The species tend to dwell in beaches, canals, mangroves, under docks and other areas where brackish waters are found.
Catfish carry poison in the spines on their back and side fins, not in their “whiskers,” and their stings may cause swelling, numbness, fainting or a reduced heart rate, according to the Florida Department of Health.