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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System

Updated NARMS logo

Introduction to NARMS


Antimicrobial drugs have been widely used in human and veterinary medicine for more than 60 years, with tremendous benefits to both human and animal health. The development of resistance to these medicines poses a serious public health threat. Antimicrobial drug use creates selective evolutionary pressure that enables antimicrobial resistant bacteria to increase in numbers and thus increases the opportunity for individuals to become infected by resistant bacteria. When antimicrobial drugs are used in food-producing animals, they can enrich the resistant strains that reach humans via the food supply.

NARMS was launched as part of a multifaceted strategy to preserve the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobial drugs that are used in food-producing animals. NARMS main function is to serve FDA/CVM as a post-approval safety monitoring system for food animal antibiotics. NARMS was established in 1996 as a partnership between the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to track antibiotic resistance in foodborne bacteria from humans (CDC), retail meats (FDA), and food animals (USDA). The major bacteria under surveillance are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus. NARMS also collaborates with similar programs in other countries to work towards international harmonization of testing and reporting. Currently each NARMS agency publishes comprehensive annual reports. In addition, CVM compiles an executive report summarizing NARMS data in an integrated format.

FDA has used data from NARMS to change the landscape of how antimicrobials are used in agriculture, most notably through its withdrawing the approval of fluoroquinolones for use in poultry, through its prohibitions of the extralabel use of fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys, and the agency’s final guidance on the judicious use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals.

The primary objectives of NARMS are to:

  • Monitor trends in antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria from humans, retail meats, and animals
  • Disseminate timely information on antimicrobial resistance to promote interventions that reduce resistance among foodborne bacteria
  • Conduct research to better understand the emergence, persistence, and spread of antimicrobial resistance
  • Assist the FDA in making decisions related to the approval of safe and effective antimicrobial drugs for animals

In addition to monitoring antimicrobial resistance, NARMS partners collaborate on epidemiologic and microbiologic research studies. NARMS also examines foodborne bacteria for genetic relatedness using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE patterns are housed in CDC’s PulseNet database or USDA’s VetNet database. Data and targeted research studies are reported at scientific meetings and published in peer reviewed scientific journals.

NARMS Point of Contact

Dr. Patrick McDermott
Director, NARMS
Email: Patrick.McDermott@fda.hhs.gov

Dr. Heather Tate
Epidemiologist, NARMS
Email: Heather.Tate@fda.hhs.gov