A child under the age of 10 was rushed to a hospital on Monday after being stabbed in the chest by a catfish.
The child was impaled by catfish spines during a fishing trip in Florida, Pasco County Fire Rescue PIO Corey Dierdorff confirmed to The Sun.
The incident happened in New Port Richey. Fire officials said as the child’s mom was taking the victim to a nearby hospital, the youngster experienced shortness of breath.
After the mom called 911, firefighters with Pasco Fire Rescue responded and listed the child as a trauma alert.
The young victim was then flown by helicopter to St. Joseph’s hospital in Tampa.
Dierdorff said the child remained in stable condition at the hospital.
He noted that it’s unknown whether the catfish was venomous.
Pasco Fire Rescue took to Twitter to share footage of the helicopter carrying the child.
Replying to another Twitter user, Pasco Fire Rescue explained: “The child was stabbed in the chest by the catfish’s stinger.
“The stinger entered the chest cavity approximately 1-1.5 inches and caused shortness of breath. We are hoping for a speedy recovery.”
Speaking to WTSP-TV, Dierdorff called the child’s situation “very odd.”
He told the outlet: “I’ve never heard of something like that.
“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.”
Although it is unknown whether the fish that attacked the child was venomous, a 2009 report by National Geographic revealed that half of more than 3,000 catfish species are venomous.
Jeremy Wright’s study of venom and microscopic tissue structures of 158 catfish species “concluded that at least 1,250 to 1,625 catfish species are likely venomous,” Nat Geo wrote.
Wright said that North America’s toxic catfish have “relatively mild venom” and some species, like flathead catfish, aren’t poisonous.
He said catfish venom is only used for defense, not for hunting.
Nat Geo added: “When a catfish feels threatened by a bigger fish, it can pop out the collapsible spines that usually lie close to its sides, making its body wider and harder to swallow.
“If the predator bites anyway, the sharp spines cut into its mouth.
“Meanwhile, pressure on the spines causes them to shift at their bases, ripping the skin over adjacent venom tassels. Venom spills out and into the predator’s mouth wounds.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.