A girl in Bangladesh is thought to be the first female to contract the epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV) disease, until now known colloquially as "tree man syndrome".
Ten-year-old Sahana Khatun exhibits an indicative symptom of EV: patches of bark-like growths have shot out of her face. Doctors are yet to confirm the diagnosis and on Tuesday (30 January) began running appropriate tests.
The highly-rare genetic disorder is believed to be caused by an an abnormal susceptibility to skin infections. Scales perpetuate on the sufferer's body as a result of relentless infections.
Until now, all recorded sufferers have been male. It is feared that Khatun may be the first known case of "tree woman syndrome".
Khatun's father Mohammad Shahjahan is very anxious about his daughter's condition. The labourer brought her to Dhaka's Medical College Hospital from their village in the country's north shortly after noticing the first growths.
He told AFP: "We are very poor. My daughter lost her mother when she was only six. I really hope that the doctors will remove the barks from my beautiful daughter's face."
The Medical College Hospital in the Bangladesh capital also treats Abul Bajandar – the world's most famous EV sufferer. Bajandar has become a reluctant celebrity after tree-like sprouts on his hands grew to weigh 5kg each.
After 16 surgical procedures–- paid for by the Bangladesh government – Bajandar's condition has improved remarkably. Doctors said last month that he may soon be able to touch his family again for the first time in 10 years.
He said: "I don't want to return to my village without clearing my hands and feet. I want to get back to my old life."