(CBS News) A Texas man reportedly has lost his leg as he battles the flesh-eating bacterial infection, necrotizing fasciitis but is making progress in his recovery.
CBS affiliate KHOU in Houston reports that 44-year-old Keith Korth from Brenham, Texas had to have his leg amputated to save his life from the potentially deadly infection. He is currently being treated at Methodist Hospital in Houston, according to KHOU.
Korth reportedly contracted the bacteria during a fishing tournament in Port O'Connor, Texas the previous weekend. His family says his brand new boots and a blister may be to blame for the point of entry of the bacteria.
"The wading boots rubbed a blister on his foot. Evidently, the water got in there," said Lynn Reynolds, Korth's Mother-in-law. "It was touch-and-go for a while."
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, but serious bacterial infection that emits toxins that stop the blood flow to areas of the body, potentially destroying muscle, skin and underlying tissues along the way. It's caused when a bacteria - often Strep - enters a minor cut or wound and begins to grow, spreading its toxins. Amputations are sometimes necessary to stop the spread of the infection. Immediate treatment, with antibiotics and/or surgery is needed to prevent death.
Fisherman Bobby Greer held his Possum Invitational fishing tournament last weekend in Port O'Connor where Keith Korth was fishing. He said the threat of the dangerous bacteria has changed many fishermen's' habits.
"Back in the day, I wouldn't even have a band-aid in the boat. Now I have all kind of stuff to clean wounds and put band-aids on it," Greer said.
The National Institutes of Health says people should always clean a cut, scrape or other type of skin injury thoroughly. People with a weakened immune system may be at risk for infection.
Dr. Maria Rodriquez, chief of infectious diseases at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Houston, told KHOU that the most common way to get the disease is to give it to give it yourself. She said we all have Strep bacteria on our skin and if we get even a small cut, that Strep could infect us with flesh-eating bacteria.
"It could be through a paper cut. Any break down in the skin can do it," she said. "It truly can happen to anybody."
Symptoms may begin as a small, red, painful lump or bump on the skin, according to the NIH, that changes to a very painful bruise-like area and can grow rapidly, even as little as an hour. The center of the wound may become black and die, and the skin may break open and ooze fluid.
Twenty-four-year-old graduate student Aimee Copeland gained national attention in May as she battled an especially rare form of necrotizing fasciitis that resulted in a left leg, right food and both hands amputated. Her condition eventually approved and she's in rehabilitation.