Recreational and Commercial Catfishing Injuries: A Review of the Literature

Courtney R.J. Kaar, Albert K. Nakanishi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Catfish injuries are increasingly common from the recreational activities of hobbyists, fishermen, and “noodling” enthusiasts as well as in the commercial catfish industry, most commonly in Brazil. Injuries can range from mild skin abrasions to life-threatening infections and tissue damage requiring urgent treatment. Most injuries and subsequent morbidity associated with catfish encounters involve the dorsal and pectoral fins. These injuries are most often lacerations involving the upper extremities. Deep, penetrating catfish spine injuries can lead to serious injuries, including arterial and nerve lacerations. Catfish venom is released when a spine is torn. The venom may cause reactions that include erythema, edema, local hemorrhage, tissue necrosis, and muscle contractions. When “finned” by a catfish, the fish's spine may separate from the fish, which can cause a foreign body embedment. Some injuries are not thought to be severe enough at the time of injury to require medical care, although symptoms may arise years later. In this literature review of catfishing injuries, references were obtained through a PubMed search of the following terms: catfish injuries, fishing, envenomation, spine, and aquatic infection. Articles were chosen for citation based on pertinence to the topic of catfishing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • aquatic infection
  • catfish
  • envenomation
  • fish spine


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