Noma is a devastating, gangrenous disease leading to severe tissue
destruction in the face and associated with high morbidity and
mortality. It is observed almost exclusively in young children
living in remote areas of developing countries, particularly Africa.
The exact prevalence of the disease is unknown
but it has been conservatively estimated that 770,000 persons
are currently affected by noma sequelae. The causal origin remains unknown but a combination of several risk factors have been identified: malnutrition, a compromised immune system, poor oral hygiene and an imbalance in the bacterial oral flora.
Epidemiology, clinical aspects, etiopathogenic theories, treatment of the acute phase and reconstructive surgery for sequelae are reviewed in the article below. Noma may be preventable if recognised at
an early stage but further research is required to determine more
exactly the causative agents.