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Child hospitalized after being stabbed in chest by catfish in Pasco County

The child had trouble breathing on way to the hospital, authorities said.

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A child was airlifted to the hospital after they were stabbed in the chest by a catfish, according to Pasco County Fire Rescue.

The incident reportedly happened Monday during a fishing trip in New Port Richey, though it's not yet clear where.

In a tweet, fire rescue said the child experienced difficulty breathing while on the way to the hospital with family. A medical helicopter ended up meeting their car and flying the victim to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

The extent of the child's injuries is not yet known. Pasco County Fire officials said the child is under the age of 10 years old.

People can be injured by catfish. According to Catfish Edge, the animal's whiskers are harmless but their dorsal and pectoral fins contain spines. 

"The tip of these spines is pointed and very sharp (especially on smaller catfish, and especially channel cats)," the site reads. "These spines don’t 'sting' and you can touch them without any pain occurring. Pain (and injury) occurs when these spines puncture the skin."

If the spines pierce the skin, venom can enter and cause swelling and increased blood flow to the area, Catfish Edge says.

The Public Information Officer with Pasco County Fire Rescue said a situation like this is rare.

"Very odd. I’ve never heard of something like that," Corey Deirdorff stated. "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."

Since there are venomous catfish in Florida, Pasco County medical crews wanted to be extra cautious to make sure the child receives the necessary care.

"That’s another reason they transported in the way that they did," Deirdorff added. "They didn’t know if this was a venomous catfish or not."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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