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Noma, or cancrum oris, is a debilitating necrotizing ulcerative stomatitis that destroys the mouth and face. It usually starts in early childhood and is associated with severe poverty, malnutrition, and infections. It is most frequently described from sub-Saharan Africa but is under-reported. There have been very few reports from Asia. We describe the clinical and social features of a series of 12 patients with noma from remote poor villages in rural Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). Noma is an ominous stigma of severe poverty and the description of this disease emphasizes the importance of poverty reduction and nutritional improvement in Lao development. In the meantime, more awareness of the problem and the importance of early therapy in acute noma by primary health care workers may reduce mortality and prevent progression to severe disfigurement.

Original publication




Journal article


The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene

Publication Date





539 - 542


Health Frontiers, Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic.


Humans, Oryza sativa, Noma, Agricultural Workers' Diseases, Demography, Poverty, Child, Rural Population, World Health Organization, Asia, Laos