Proteus Syndrome Or Elephant Man's Disease
Proteus Syndrome or Elephant Man’s Disease is a rare disorder caused by genetic mutation during the embryonic stage which is mainly characterized by tissue overgrowth. Joseph Cary Merrick (1862-1890) was exhibited at freak shows as the “Elephant Man”. In 1986, it was inferred that Merrick had Proteus syndrome as evidenced by the deformities of his head, upper body, and extremities as well as loose, rough skin like that of an elephant. This syndrome is attributed to “Proteus”, the mythological early-prophetic Greek sea-god who can change into different forms. The progressive signs and symptoms, which typically begin to appear during early childhood, include skin overgrowth, bony (usually skull, soles of feet, and limbs) deformities, and vessel (lymphatic and blood), muscle, and fatty tissue hypertrophy.