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About A Noma Disease


Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the inclusion of noma (cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis) in its official list of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).


GS II: Health

Noma Disease

  • Definition: Noma disease is a rapidly progressing severe gangrenous condition that primarily affects the mouth and face.
  • Aliases: Also known as cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis.
  • Geographical Prevalence: Predominantly found in sub-Saharan Africa.
Affected Population:
  • Primarily targets children aged 2–6 years.
  • Common among those suffering from malnutrition, infectious diseases, living in extreme poverty, and experiencing poor oral health or weakened immune systems.
  • Occurs among immunocompromised adults, including those with HIV, leukemia, and other diseases.
  • Begins as a soft tissue lesion (sore) of the gums.
  • Develops into acute necrotizing gingivitis, rapidly destroying soft tissues.
  • Progresses to involve hard tissues and the facial skin.
Transmission and Contagiousness:
  • Generally considered opportunistic and non-contagious.
  • Cases reported outside sub-Saharan Africa, including Asia-Pacific, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe.
  • Evidence suggests causative agents are non-specific polymicrobial organisms.
  • No documented evidence supports direct person-to-person transmission.
  • Early detection crucial, with therapy most effective in the early stages (aggressively swollen gums).
  • Treatment involves prescription of widely available antibiotics.
  • Recommendations and support for improved oral hygiene.
  • Use of disinfectant mouthwash.
  • Nutrition supplements may be advised.
  • Noma disease poses a severe threat, particularly to vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.
  • Timely intervention and comprehensive treatment strategies are essential for managing and preventing the progression of this devastating condition.

-Source: WHO

February 2024