Noma Disease (also known as cancrum oris) is a rapidly progressive often gangrenous infection of the mouth and face.

The disease is associated with high morbidity and mortality and affects mainly children in the poorest countries of Africa.

The WHO estimates that 500,000 people are affected, and that 140,000 new cases are reported each year.

The mortality rate is approximately 90 percent.

Signs & Symptoms
The mucous membranes of the mouth develop ulcers, and rapid, painful tissue degeneration ensues, which can degrade tissues of the bones in the face.

Noma affects extremely impoverished and malnourished children in sub-Saharan countries and other tropical regions; while some bacterial organisms are often found in affected children, these same bacteria are widespread.

The underlying causes for this disease are primarily poverty and malnutrition.

malnutrition (particularly Vitamin-A and Vitamin-B) or dehydration
poor hygiene, particularly oral
unsafe drinking water
proximity to unkempt livestock
recent illness
an immunodeficiency disease, including AIDS

The progression of the disease can be halted with the use of antibiotics and improved nutrition; however, its physical effects are permanent and may require oral and maxillofacial surgery or reconstructive plastic surgery to repair. Reconstruction is usually very challenging and should be delayed until full recovery (usually about one year following initial intervention).

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