by Elizabeth Scarborough
A Texas man is fighting for his life after he was infected with a deadly flesh-eating bacteria.
Steve Gilpatrick and his family go to Galveston every year for a week of vacation.
His family believes he picked up the bacteria at Crystal Beach while fishing.
"He was in the water for no more than half an hour," wife Linda Gilpatrick said.
Within a few days, Steve Gilpatrick had an infection in his leg.
"He's diabetic and just thought he had an infection, a severe infection of some sort," Linda Gilpatrick said.
"He had no way of knowing the gravity of it."
Doctors at John Sealy Hospital said they believe Steve Gilpatrick has Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria that kills tissues and cells as it spreads.
The bacteria likely entered through an open wound, doctors said.
After three surgeries, all the skin has been removed from his right leg.
The leg may have to be amputated and it is possible the infection could kill him.
"He could die at any minute," Erin Gilpatrick said.
"There's nothing we can do about it, but pray and try to help him get better."
"We tell him we love him quite often, talk about getting back home, getting well," Linda Gilpatrick said.
Relatives said they think something should be done to let people know about the potential danger.
"Have that posted somewhere so people will know," Erin Gilpatrick said.
"He would never have got in the water if he would have known that."
Doctors recommended spraying rubbing alcohol on open wounds immediately after swimming to prevent infections.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It normally lives in warm sea water and is part of a group of vibrios that are called "halophilic" because they require salt.
Vibrio vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to sea water.