Dhaka, February 1 (The Daily Star Online): A 10-year-old girl from Netrakona with bark-like warts growing out of her face could be the first female in Bangladesh to be afflicted with the “tree-man syndrome.”
Shahana Khatun’s father Shahjahan Mia, a farmer, became concerned when a growth previously thought to be prickly heat rashes started to spread and grow.
“This appears to be similar to tree man disease that affected Abul Bajandar, hailing from Khulna,” Dr Samanta Lal Sen, Coordinator of Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit, told The Daily Star.
A six-member medical board will be formed to assess Shahana’s illness, Dr Sen said, adding that her treatment will be free of cost.
Acting on a local journalist’s advice, Shahjahan Miah brought his daughter to the Dakha Medical College Hospital early this week.
A class-3 student of Baluchora Government Primary School, Shahana lost her mother four years ago and was being raised by her grandmother and aunt.
When she was one, she appeared to have what was then thought prickly heat rashes on her face. These started to grow about three years back, her father said.
Previously, Abul Bajandar, 26, also known as “tree man” had undergone at least 18 operations at the same hospital where Shahana is receiving treatment.
Bajandar has been suffering from epidermodysplasia verruciformis, a rare skin disorder commonly known as the “tree man illness”, which covers limbs with warts, making them look like tree branches.
He is believed to be the fourth man in the world with tree man illness.
According to DermNet New Zealand, epidermodysplasia verruciformis (also called Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia) is an inherited disorder.
Till date, no cure has been found.
A Romanian man was first diagnosed with the disease in March 2007. Another case was reported in Indonesia in November the same year in a 35-year-old fisherman. The last reported case also occurred in Indonesia in 2009.
The Indonesian fisherman, whose case had also received world-wide attention, died on January 30 last year from complications related to his condition as the warts began to reappear. Those had been surgically removed earlier.
(The featured image shows 10 year old Shahana with tree bark like warts growing out of her face.Photo: Shaheen Mollah/The Daily Star)