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Surveillance & Data Systems

CDC uses several surveillance systems to track and monitor reports of foodborne and waterborne diseases in the United States. Most often, information in these systems come from state and local health agencies. Although some of these systems have been used extensively for decades, new surveillance methods have improved the quality, quantity, and timeliness of their data. The surveillance systems described below play a role in detecting and preventing disease and outbreaks.

Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet)

FoodNet logo

FoodNet conducts surveillance in ten sites for infections of nine bacterial and parasitic pathogens transmitted commonly through food and for hemolytic uremic syndrome. FoodNet provides a foundation for food safety policy and prevention efforts in the United States in the following ways:

  • Estimating the number of foodborne illnesses
  • Monitoring changes in how often they occur over time
  • Attributing illnesses to specific foods and settings
  • Surveillance Reports: FoodNet Annual Reports
  • Studies and Surveys: FoodNet Studies and Surveys
  • Online Data Tool: Use FoodNet Fast to search information on cases of illness reported to FoodNet since 1996.

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Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FDOSS)

FDOSS collects data on foodborne disease outbreaks, defined as the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from consuming a common food. FDOSS provides insights into the germs and foods that cause illness and the settings where contaminated foods are prepared.

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National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS)

NARMS logo

NARMS is an interagency public health surveillance system that tracks antimicrobial resistance in foodborne and other enteric (intestinal) bacteria from humans, retail meats, and food animals in the United States. Resistant bacteria resist the effects of drugs – that is, the germs are not killed, and their growth is not stopped. The NARMS program at CDC helps protect public health by providing information about resistance in bacteria isolated from ill people, the ways in which resistance is spread, and how resistant infections differ from susceptible (non-resistant) infections.

Surveillance Reports:

Online Data Tool:

  • Use NARMS Now to search for antibiotic resistance data from bacteria isolated from humans as part of NARMS.

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National Surveillance of Bacterial Foodborne Illnesses

CDC conducts national surveillance for illnesses caused by bacterial enteric pathogens. State and territorial public health agencies report data on these illnesses to CDC, which uses the data to detect outbreaks, monitor trends, and measure how well prevention programs are working. CDC collects basic information about every illness caused by Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), and Shigella, and detailed information about every botulismcholera and other VibrioListeria, and typhoid and paratyphoid fever illness.

Surveillance Reports:

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PulseNet USA logo

PulseNet USA

PulseNet is a national laboratory network that connects foodborne illness cases to detect outbreaks. PulseNet uses DNA fingerprinting of bacteria making people sick to detect thousands of local and multistate outbreaks. Since the network began in 1996, PulseNet has improved our food safety systems through identifying outbreaks early. This allows investigators to find the source, alert the public sooner, and identify gaps in our food safety systems that would not otherwise be recognized. PulseNet International performs a similar role for foodborne illnesses globally.

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Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance (WBDOSS)

WBDOSS collects data on waterborne disease and outbreaks associated with recreational water, drinking water, environmental, and undetermined water exposures.

Surveillance Reports:

Online Data Tool:

  • WBDOSS is connected to NORS. Use NORS Dashboard to search for information on waterborne disease outbreaks reported to CDC.

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NORS Dashboard is a web-based tool for searching and accessing outbreak information reported to NORS.

  • National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS)
    NORS is a web-based platform that U.S. health departments use to report outbreak information by to CDC. Through NORS, CDC collects reports of enteric (intestinal) disease outbreaks caused by bacterial, viral, parasitic, chemical, toxin, and unknown germs. NORS also collects reports of foodborne and waterborne disease outbreaks that are not enteric.
  • National Electronic Norovirus Outbreak Network (CaliciNet)
    CaliciNet is a national laboratory network focused on norovirus, the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis and foodborne illness in the United States. The network plays an important part in quickly identifying norovirus outbreaks, linking outbreaks to a common source (such as contaminated food), monitoring circulating norovirus strains, and identifying newly emerging strains. CaliciNet is linked to NORS.
  • National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS)
    NEARS is a surveillance system to capture environmental assessment data from foodborne illness outbreak investigations. Participating in NEARS can help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks associated with restaurants, banquet facilities, schools, and other institutions and can help food safety programs meet the Food and Drug Administration’s Retail Food Program Standards (Standard 5[PDF – 114 KB]). NEARS is run by CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health.
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