A tourist in Brazil had a rather painful encounter with a catfish, which ultimately led to her requiring surgery to have the beast — which had embedded itself in her stomach — removed, the Independent is reporting.
The woman, whose name and age have not been made public, was swimming in the São Paulo beach resort of Itanhaém Friday when the catfish became embedded in her abdomen. Local Brazilian newspaper the Globe says that the catfish did not attack the woman, but rather was thrown into her because of rough seas that day. The animal the reacted as it naturally would when confronted with something it regards as a predator.
Local beach-goer Claudia Pájaro described hearing the woman screaming in pain and rushing out of the surf with the catfish hanging from her stomach.
“She was screaming too. At first I didn’t understand what was going on. After I saw the situation I understood. She asked for God’s sake and described what was hurting. It was scary.”
Ambulance worker Marcelo Araujo Tamada, who responded on the scene, wrote about the woman’s injuries on Facebook.
“We were alerted to an incident where an object had penetrated a swimmer’s stomach and when we got there, discovered it was a fish.”
Tamada posted photos of the fish embedded in the woman’s stomach on Facebook. You can see them below, but be warned: they are disturbing.
Tamada and his team were able to remove the catfish from her stomach, but unfortunately for the woman, the animal had also embedded painful barbs into her skin. Those could not be removed without causing her severe pain and further injury, so she was taken to a hospital to have the barbs removed surgically.
“She was in a lot of pain. We didn’t remove the spine because only a doctor can do this. We took her to hospital so she could have microsurgery.”
“Generally we deal with people who have stood on fish or have cut a finger touching one, but I’ve never seen a catfish stuck to someone’s stomach. It was definitely a first.”
The unidentified woman in Brazil is not the first person to have had a catfish embedded in their body. In 2015, a YouTube user posted a video of two women horsing around with a catfish when one of the women was struck in the leg. The catfish became embedded in her leg. You can watch the video below, but be warned: it contains strong language.
Although catfish are generally not aggressive, they will attack with their barbs when threatened, and venomous barbs can be found in species of catfish — both saltwater and freshwater catfish — all over the world, according to E-Medicine Health.
“These fish are not aggressive. People stung by catfish are usually fishing or bathing when they make contact with a catfish, usually by stepping on it or handling the fish after it has been caught. Both salt- and fresh-water catfish are dangerous.”
Catfish stings can cause severe pain at the wound site, but can easily be treated with hot water (as hot as you can handle) and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as Tylenol. According to one E-Medicine Health user, even though the sting is excruciatingly painful, it’s easy to treat.
“I was stung by a catfish on the soft tissue on the bottom side of my foot. The barb did not break off. The pain was excruciating. I followed the guidelines to alleviate the sting. I was so amazed that such a simple thing as tolerable hot water could provide such relief.”
Catfish sting wounds are generally not dangerous unless the wound becomes infected. Usually catfish barb injuries can be treated with cold water at the scene, and be removed with tweezers, but in rare occasions antibiotics may be required.
[Image via Shutterstock/Renars 2013]