In an effort to prospectively monitor the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance of zoonotic pathogens from human diagnostic specimens, retail meats and food animals, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) was established in 1996 by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The animal component of NARMS is housed within the Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Research Unit (BEAR) of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Athens, Georgia. The animal component of NARMS comprises the testing of isolates obtained from diagnostic animal specimens, healthy on-farm animals, and food-producing animals at slaughter. The panel of antimicrobial agents chosen is representative of common antimicrobials used in both human and veterinary medicine. Non-typhoid Salmonella was chosen as a sentinel organism of the animal component of NARMS which was launched in 1997. Testing of Campylobacter isolates began in 1998 while Escherichia coli and Enterococcus were included in 2000.
The 2009 NARMS Executive Report contains additional background information on sampling and testing methodology as well as summary data from all three components of the program.
The goals and objectives of the monitoring program are to:
1. Monitor trends in antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria from humans, retail meats, and animals
2. Disseminate timely information on antimicrobial resistance to promote interventions that reduce resistance among foodborne bacteria
3. Conduct research to better understand the emergence, persistence, and spread of antimicrobial resistance
4. Assist the FDA in making decisions related to the approval of safe and effective antimicrobial drugs for animals
Information resulting from the monitoring program and follow-up outbreak investigations will be distributed to veterinarians, physicians, and food animal producer groups. Use of the information will be targeted to redirecting drug use so as to diminish the development and spread of resistance over the short term with directives involving long-term use developed in collaboration with the appropriate professional practitioner groups. Outbreak investigations and field studies will be initiated as a result of major shifts or changes in resistance patterns in either animal or human isolates.