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January 13, 1975

Catfish Stings

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

JAMA. 1975;231(2):176-177. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240140036022

CATFISHES, along with some mollusks, arthropods, stingrays, sharks, puffers, and tropical marine turtles, are recognized as toxic saltwater organisms.1 While the painful nature of freshwater catfish stings has been known for centuries,1 the potential of these fish for inflicting a very distressing sting to unwary humans is apparently poorly appreciated by physicians in this country. The following is a description of one such encounter.

Report of a Case  A 24-year-old woman suffered a sting in the thenar pad of her left hand while attempting to clean a 30-cm (12-inch) catfish. She immediately experienced severe pain and paresthesias in the entire extremity followed within minutes by generalized tremulousness and teeth chattering. Because of increasing pain in the affected limb, she sought attention at the Duke University Medical Center emergency room.The patient was in obvious distress, complaining bitterly of pain. Blood pressure was 90/60 mm Hg, pulse rate was 110