Noma disease, also known as Cancrum oris, is a rapidly progressing, flesh- eating infection of the oral cavity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) globally, it has a mortality rate of 90%.
Noma disease is a major burden in the northwestern Nigeria. This disease mostly affects children between the ages of 2 to 5 years who are extremely malnourished. These children frequently have a disease like cancer, malaria, measles, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, measles, or enteritis. They could also be immune system compromised. If left untreated, Noma disease may lead to death.
The root causes of Noma disease remain unknown. However, certain bacteria can be associated with it. The risk factors associated with Noma disease are severe malnutrition, history of viral or bacterial infection, poor environmental sanitation, failed immunization, poor oral hygiene, poverty, frequent exposure to human/animal faeces and compromised immune system.
Symptoms of Noma disease are swollen gums, ulcer formation on the face, swollen cheek lining. It initially begins as a sore on the gum and if left untreated, progressively destroys the mouth, nose, and facial tissues over time. Survivors live with physical and functional problems that make it difficult to speak, breath, chew, and even see. As a result, they are stigmatized and find it difficult to function in society.
Timely detection and treatment of Noma is critical to avoid physical deformities and death. The laboratory diagnosis of Noma disease involves bacterial culture and microscopy of oral swabs, oral tissue biopsy and blood tests.
It can be treated with medications, plastic surgery and maintaining proper electrolyte and water balance.
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