Noma disease

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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).

About Noma disease

  • It is a rapidly progressing severe gangrenous disease of the mouth and the face.
  • The disease, also called cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis, is mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • It mostly affects children aged 2–6 years suffering from malnutrition, affected by infectious diseases, living in extreme poverty with poor oral health or with weakened immune systems.
  • It can also occur among immunocompromised adults due to HIV, leukaemia and other diseases.
  • It starts as a soft tissue lesion (a sore) of the gums.
  • It then develops into an acute necrotizing gingivitis that progresses rapidly, destroying the soft tissues and further progressing to involve the hard tissues and skin of the face.
  • It is generally considered an opportunistic and non-contagious disease.
  • Indeed, cases are seen in African countries outside this area as well as in other parts of the world, including Asia and Asia-Pacific, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe.
  • Evidence indicates that the causative agents of noma are non-specific polymicrobial organisms.
  • There is no documented evidence to support direct transmission from person to person.
  • Treatment
    • Early detection is essential, as therapy is most effective at the early stages of disease when it appears as aggressively swollen gums (acute necrotizing gingivitis).
    • Treatment typically includes prescription of widely available antibiotics, advice and support on practices to improve oral hygiene, disinfectant mouthwash and nutrition supplements. 

Q1) What are Neglected tropical diseases ?

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of tropical infections which are common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They are caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms (helminths). There are a diverse group of 20 diseases that are affecting more than 1 billion people who live in impoverished communities.

Source: WHO officially recognizes noma as a neglected tropical disease