Catfish have poison glands that inject toxin through hollow barbs. A Stingray barb is coated with venom. Pain can be severe, but usually is not life threatening, except wounds to chest, face & abdomen areas, which are very serious & require EMS treatment.
Hardhead Catfish Wounds
Stings usually occur when handling catfish caught while fishing, usually involving the hand or foot. 3-barbs, one on the dorsal fin and one on each side, are serrated and can be very difficult to remove if deeply embedded. Usually a doctor should remove.
If the barb is not embedded, immerse the affected part in hot water, as hot as the victim can tolerate, but not hot enough to burn. Although the pain will be relieved in seconds, leave in the
hot water for 30-60 minutes. Keep the water as hot as can be tolerated. The poison will drain from wound into the water. Clean wound with a mild soap or an antiseptic solution. Wrap with gauze.
Stingray injuries may occur when fishing or wadding. The barb is located on the tail, and is stabbed into the victim as a defensive maneuver. If no barb is embedded, treat like the catfish treatment above. Laceration type wounds may require stitches. A tetanus shot may also be required. Should shock symptoms develop, or barb is embedded in tissue, the victim will require EMS & hospital treatment. Never pull out a barb deeply embedded in tissue, chest or abdomen areas, which can be very serious.