Doctors at a village in Tamil Nadu are baffled by a bizarre condition affecting a three-month boy who keeps on catching fire spontaneously.
Rahul, son of Karnan and Rajeshwari from Villupuram village, is currently being treated for serious burns at Kilpauk Medical College hospital in Chennai. So far there have been four incidents when he has suddenly caught fire. His parents say that he was not near any source of flame when he caught fire and the situation has spooked the villagers who are blaming paranormal forces for the phenomenon.
Doctors however say that Rahul suffers from a condition known as spontaneous human combustion (SHC), a condition so rare that there are only 200 people in the world who are known to have the condition over the last 300 years. They have also found that Rahul emits a highly combustible gas through the pores of his skin though they are yet to identify it.
Dr Jayaraman, former head of the burns unit in KMC, said that there is no cure for SHC and currently the incidents are being treated as a regular burn injury. "More than 20 years ago, we saw a similar case of a 23-year-old man, but it went undocumented. Several theories of SHC do the rounds but they are very vague and not backed by scientific proof. Though there is no special cure for the condition, it can be treated like a regular burn injury", he said.