2. A gangrenous stomatitis, usually beginning in the mucous membrane of the corner of the mouth or cheek, and then progressing fairly rapidly to involve the entire thickness of the lips or cheek (or both), with conspicuous necrosis and complete sloughing of tissue; usually observed in poorly nourished children and debilitated adults; especially, in lower socioeconomic groups, and frequently preceded by another disease, e.g., kala azar, dysentery, or scarlet fever.
A similar process (noma pudendi, noma vulvae) may also involve the labia majora (larger (major) outside pair of labia (lips) of the vulva (the female external genitalia).
Several organisms are usually found in the necrotic material, but fusiform bacilli, Borrelia organisms, staphylococci, and anaerobic streptococci are most frequently observed.3. Etymology: from Medical Latin, which came from Greek nome, "a feeding, a spreading"; literally, "pasturage, food from pasturage".
Noma, a disease that is spreading in certain parts of the world
Some strains of noma starts as a sore in the mouth, eats through facial muscles, cartilage, and skin, leaving a wound that often gapes open to the bone.
It is a gangrenous infection that thrives primarily where poor sanitation and malnutrition are common.
More than 100,000 children worldwide have noma; the rate in sub-Saharan Africa is as high as one in 1,000 a year. Most victims are children, and over 70 percent die from the disease.
Although no one knows exactly what causes noma, the disease is treatable if caught in time; and preventable with proper nutrition and health care.