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Child stabbed in chest by catfish barb in Pasco, airlifted to Tampa, officials say

When firefighters arrived they discovered a barb in the child’s chest that was about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep.
A child was airlifted Monday afternoon after the spine of a catfish stabbed the child in the chest and broke off, according to Pasco Fire Rescue.
A child was airlifted Monday afternoon after the spine of a catfish stabbed the child in the chest and broke off, according to Pasco Fire Rescue. [ Pasco Fire Rescue ]
Published Jun. 20|Updated Jun. 21

A child was stabbed by a barb from a catfish and airlifted to a Tampa hospital Monday with the spine embedded in the child’s chest, according to Pasco Fire Rescue.

After the child was stung, the mother and child got into their vehicle and began driving to the hospital around 1 p.m., according to Corey Dierdorff, a spokesperson for Pasco Fire Rescue. But when the child began experiencing shortness of breath, the mother pulled over at 4442 U.S. Highway 19 in New Port Richey and called 911, Dierdorff said.

Dierdorff did not know how or where the child was stung, or what kind of catfish it was.

When firefighters arrived, they discovered the catfish barb was embedded about 1 to 1½ inches deep in the child’s chest, Dierdorff said. The child was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa.

The child’s age and gender were not released, but Dierdorff said they are under 10.

According to the Florida Department of Health, a catfish has venom in its spines, and the spines are so strong they can puncture the sole of a shoe. Catfish stings can cause swelling and numbness, and sometimes can lead to fainting or a reduced heart rate.

Dierdorff said he knows anglers are cautious around catfish because of their barbs. However, he said he couldn’t recall another instance such as this one.

“I know they get cut and stuff by them a lot, but I’ve never heard of anybody getting stabbed in the chest by one of them,” Dierdorff said.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

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