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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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NARMS Program

The NARMS program consists of three areas or arms:

  • Animal Arm
  • Human Arm
  • Retail Arm
The human component of NARMS was launched in 1996 within the framework of CDC’s Emerging Infections Program and the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet). Initially, it included non-typhoidal Salmonella and E. coli O157 isolates from 14 state and local health departments. In 1999, testing of typhoidal Salmonella and Shigella was added. By 2003, NARMS conducted nationwide surveillance of the four aforementioned organisms from humans. Testing of Campylobacter from humans began in five FoodNet sites in 1997 and expanded to 10 FoodNet sites by 2003. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing is conducted at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease, CDC, in Atlanta, GA.  
The animal component of NARMS began in 1997 with monitoring of Salmonella, and later expanded to include Campylobacter (1998), E. coli (2000), and Enterococcus (2003). Animal isolates are gathered nationwide from a variety of sources including federally inspected slaughter and processing facilities and USDA National Animal Health Monitoring Studies on farms.   Susceptibility testing is conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of USDA in Athens, GA and serotyping is conducted by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). 
The retail meat component of NARMS was launched in 2002, following a 15-month pilot study in Iowa. Retail meat surveillance is conducted through an ongoing collaboration between CVM, CDC, and FoodNet laboratories. Participating FoodNet sites purchase retail meats and culture them for Salmonella and Campylobacter. A select few sites also culture retail meats for E. coli and Enterococcus. Isolates are sent to CVM’s Office of Research in Laurel, MD for species and serotype confirmation, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and genetic analysis.
The NARMS program is designed with comparable methodology between all three arms. Susceptibility testing currently involves the determination of the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) for a panel of selected antimicrobial agents.   The antimicrobial drugs tested can be modified to meet monitoring needs. Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) guidelines are followed, when available, throughout the testing procedure.