Covering Louisiana

Aug 9, 2014 4:33 PM by AP

Boy, 7, bitten by Lake Pontchartrain shark

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A 7-year-old New Orleans boy injured while swimming with his family in southeast Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain is believed to have been bitten by a shark.

It happened Friday afternoon in the huge body of brackish water, which is connected to the Gulf of Mexico north of New Orleans.

Shelly Trentacosta told Nola.com/The Times-Picayune that her family was swimming and sailing in the lake Friday afternoon. Her 7-year-old son Trent began screaming and they found that his foot was covered with blood.

Doctors who treated wounds to his heel and big toe later said he had been bitten by a shark.

After viewing photos of the wounds, University of New Orleans shark expert Mitchell Chevalier agreed.

Many boaters are unaware there are sharks in Lake Pontchartain, but at certain times of the year, there are plenty, according to Chevalier, who tags sharks for UNO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That includes bull sharks, which are among the world's man-eaters.

Trent is expected to fully recover.

He's unable to walk on his foot, so he'll have to rest until it heals. Some of the cuts were deep and wide enough that they would have been aided by stitches, but the family elected not to go that route.

Trent "was kind of freaked out," Trentacosta said. "We decided we'll just wrap them and keep them taped together."

She's still incredulous that her son was bitten by a shark in Lake Pontchartrain, which covers roughly 630 square miles and is popular with swimmers, boaters and fishermen.

"We've been swimming in the lake forever," she said. "You don't think something like that will happen. That was the last thought that crossed my mind."

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