Man Fights Flesh-Eating Bacteria Contracted at Texas Beach

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HOUSTON (AP) - A man was listed in critical but stable condition after three surgeries aimed at saving him from a flesh-eating bacteria.

Steve Gilpatrick of Nacogdoches was infected with the disease during a swim off Crystal Beach in Galveston County on July eighth.

The 58-year-old is suffering from multiple organ failure and doctors are trying to save his leg.

Doctor David Herndon, a professor at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston and Gilpatrick's physician, said yesterday the situation is life-threatening because the infection spread to Gilpatrick's blood.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus thrives during summer months in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Swimmers with weakened immune systems and with open wounds are at the greatest risk.

Gilpatrick is diabetic and had an ulcer on his leg when he went swimming.

People can also be infected by eating contaminated seafood.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says there were 54 cases of the infection reported in 2006, with at least 16 caused by water contact.