Florida child is airlifted to the hospital after being impaled in the chest by a catfish barb during a family fishing trip
- A child, under 10 years old, was stabbed by a catfish stinger, which broke off, imbedding an inch a half in the child’s chest
- The child’s mother was rushing to the hospital when the youngster complained of shortness of breath
- The quick-thinking mom called 911 and Pasco County, Florida rescuers decided to airlift the child to a Tampa hospital
- More than 1,200 species of catfish are venomous and a sting wound can be infected with bacteria and fungus
- The child is currently listed in stable condition in St. John’s Hospital in Tampa
A Florida child was medevacked to a Tampa hospital after being impaled in the chest by a catfish barb during a family fishing trip on Sunday, authorities said.
Shortly before 1 pm, the unidentified youngest, whose age and gender have not been released, was fishing in New Port Richey, on the Gulf coast north of Tampa.
The child was stabbed by the fish’s stinger, according to Corey Dierdorff, spokesman for Pasco County Fire Rescue.
The child’s mother gathered the kid into the family car and sped down highway US 19 to the hospital, but on the way the child complained of shortness of breath.
The worried mother pulled over and called 911.
Pasco County first responders arrived, evaluated the boy and determined that the risk was severe enough that they airlifted the child to St. John’s Hospital in Tampa.
A child under 10 was airlifted to a Tampa trauma center after being speared in the chest by a catfish barb
The child is currently in stable condition.
‘I’ve been in emergency services for 20 years and I’ve never heard of a report like this before,’ Dierdorff said.
He said that the helicopter was called in because of the unique circumstances and the unknown factors in the emergency.
The mother and child were fishing in New Port Richey when the kid was impaled by a potentially lethal catfish barb
‘Because of the child’s age, we didn’t know if it was a venomous catfish, the child was suffering shortness of breath, they didn’t [initially] know how deep the puncture wound was,’ Dierdorff said.
‘Out of an abundance of caution they ordered a trauma alert so that doctors were prepared when the child got there.’
Though rarely lethal, injuries from catfish barbs are well known to anglers.
FILE PHOTO: Pectoral barb of a catfish can be seen hear piercing the flesh of a person
FILE PHOTO: Anglers recommend holding the catfish under the pectoral fins to avoid getting stuck by the fish’s barbs
Of the 1,600 catfish species in the world, more that 1,200 are venomous and their poison can be extremely toxic, according to research by the University of Michigan
Of the 1,600 catfish species in the world, more that 1,200 are venomous and their poison can be extremely toxic, according to research by the University of Michigan.
Venom glands are located near the bony, serrated barbs found on the pectoral and dorsal fins that will lock in place when the fish feels threatened, according to the report.
‘Catfish venoms poison nerves and break down red blood cells, producing such effects as severe pain, reduced blood flow, muscle spasms and respiratory distress,’ researcher Jeremy Wright wrote in his paper.
He warns in his paper that those stung by the fish could suffer for months from bacterial and fungal infections that are carried into the blood stream by the barb.
‘In such cases, complications associated with these infections and foreign bodies can last several months,’ Wright found.