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Data Show Layers of Protection Are Working to Protect Public Health

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) is a multi-agency program consisting of three federal agencies:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which coordinates the programs and monitors for resistant bacteria in retail meats (http://www.fda.gov/cvm/narms_pg.html)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which collects isolates, or samples, from public health laboratories to monitor for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant food-borne pathogens in humans (www.cdc.gov/narms)

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which collects samples from slaughter and processing facilities to monitor for antibiotic resistance trends in farm animals (www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=66120508)

So far, the program has produced seven years of data representing Salmonella isolates from 50,000 animals and 11,000 humans. Through 2004, most bacterial species that were isolated from humans and tested for resistance against drug classes potentially related to animal usage have shown stable or declining resistance patterns. Since 1996, most of the multiple-drug resistance types, such as Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 have shown stable or declining prevalence in both food animals and humans.

The Collaboration on Animal Health and Food Safety Epidemiology (CAHFSE), a program within the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, provides more real-time, active surveillance data (www.aphis,usda.gov/cahfse). This program collects comprehensive, specific information regarding a variety of farm practices - including antibiotic use - and tracks the animal all the way through processing to provide specific management information to the producer.

The SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program, initiated in 1997, is the most comprehensive human surveillance program in the world (www.jmilabs.com). Data from SENTRY documents the resistant organisms of greatest risk for poor therapy outcomes in patients that have little link to using animal antibiotics. This data is reflected in a separate measurement of human medical community opinion in that the contribution of animal use to resistant infections is less than 5 percent (Bywater R. and Casewell M., Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2000; 6:643-645).
Animal health companies support these surveillance and monitoring programs, which are significantly important for monitoring the health and well being of animals and humans. The data is also important for use in risk assessments to measure the public health impact of using particular antimicrobials.

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