- Electrical Injuries in Animals: Causes, Pathogenesis, and Morphological Findings 11 agosto 2016
Schulze, C., Peters, M., Baumgärtner, W., Wohlsein, P.
Electrical injuries in animals occur most often accidentally. They comprise contact to various forms of currents, including alternating, rotary, or direct currents. Depending on various parameters of the current (including the type of circuit, voltage, current and duration of exposure) and conditions of the animal (such as wet or dry hair coat and pathway of current through the body), lesions may be absent or may include early or localized development of rigor mortis, signs of acute circulatory failure, or severe thermoelectrical burns. Such burns may present as external current marks, singed hair or feathers, metallization of the skin, or occasionally internal electroporation injury resulting in muscle necrosis, hemolysis, vascular damage with thrombosis, injury to brain and spinal cord, or skeletal fractures. Furthermore, lightning strikes occur regularly in grazing animals, which have greater risk of death from step potentials (ground current) in addition to direct strike and contact injury. Such cases may have no lesions, external signs of linear or punctate burns, keraunographic markings, or exit burns on the soles of the hooves or the coronary bands. Besides detailed information about the circumstances at the location where the animal was found, electrical injuries in animals require a thorough morphological workup, including additional investigations in conjunction with certain knowledge about the possible lesion spectrum.
- Evaluation of Human Semenogelin Membrane Strip Test for Species Cross-reactivity in Dogs 11 agosto 2016
Stern, A. W., Lanka, S.
Semenogelins are proteins originating in the seminal vesicle and are useful markers for the presumptive identification of human semen. Detection of semenogelin can be done with a commercially available membrane test. In this study, a commercially available membrane test for human semenogelin proteins was used to assess for cross-reactivity in dog bodily fluids to allow for the potential utilization for detection of human semen in dog bodily fluids. The authors analyzed canine semen and other bodily fluids, including urine, saliva, vaginal secretions, fecal material, and blood. They also examined the distribution of human semenogelin I transcripts in the canine testis, prostate, and several bodily fluids by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. No cross-reactivity was observed in the canine bodily fluids tested except for a single rectal swab, which was negative on a second test. Further testing should be done to validate the use of this kit for screening samples from dogs suspected to have been victims of sexual abuse.
- The Rise of Forensic Pathology in Human Medicine: Lessons for Veterinary Forensic Pathology 11 agosto 2016
Pollanen, M. S.
The rise of forensic pathology in human medicine has greatly contributed to the administration of justice, public safety and security, and medical knowledge. However, the evolution of human forensic pathology has been challenging. Veterinary forensic pathologists can learn from some of the lessons that have informed the growth and development of human forensic pathology. Three main observations have emerged in the past decade. First, wrongful convictions tell us to use a truth-seeking stance rather than an a priori "think dirty" stance when investigating obscure death. Second, missed homicides and concealed homicides tell us that training and certification are the beginning of reliable forensic pathology. Third, failure of a sustainable institutional arrangement that fosters a combination of service, research, and teaching will lead to stagnation of knowledge. Forensic pathology of humans and animals will flourish, help protect society, and support justice if we embrace a modern biomedical scientific model for our practice. We must build training programs, contribute to the published literature, and forge strong collaborative institutions.
- Veterinary Forensic Pathology of Animal Sexual Abuse 11 agosto 2016
Stern, A. W., Smith-Blackmore, M.
Animal sexual abuse (ASA) involves harm inflicted on animals for the purposes of human sexual gratification and includes such terms as bestiality, zoophilia, zoosadism, animal sexual assault, and others. The prevalence of ASA is not known, although it may be more common than is currently perceived. Veterinarians have the skills required to identify and document cases of ASA. This article reviews the terminology, legal definitions and forms of ASA, and its social and psychological context. An investigative approach is outlined, including an alternate light source examination; collection of swabs for DNA analysis; sampling vaginal washes, rectal washes, and toenails for trace evidence and biologic analyses; radiographic studies; and a complete forensic necropsy, including histopathology. Gross lesions identified in ASA victims include injuries to the anus, rectum, penis, scrotum, nipples, and vagina; the presence of foreign bodies; and abrasions, bruising, and other evidence of nonaccidental injury. Specialized procedures, including examination using alternate light sources and screening tests to identify human seminal fluid within samples from ASA victims, are of potential value but have not been validated for use in animals.
- Identification, Collection, and Preservation of Veterinary Forensic Evidence: On Scene and During the Postmortem Examination 11 agosto 2016
Touroo, R., Fitch, A.
Although it is the obligation of the veterinary forensic pathologist to be competent in identifying, collecting, and preserving evidence from the body, it is also necessary for them to understand the relevance of conditions on the crime scene. The body is just one piece of the puzzle that needs to be considered when determining the cause of death. The information required for a complete postmortem analysis should also include details of the animal’s environment and items of evidence present on the crime scene. These factors will assist the veterinary forensic pathologist in the interpretation of necropsy findings. Therefore, the veterinary forensic pathologist needs to have a basic understanding of how the crime scene is processed, as well as the role of the forensic veterinarian on scene. In addition, the veterinary forensic pathologist must remain unbiased, necessitating an understanding of evidence maintenance and authentication.
- Veterinary Forensic Pathology: The Search for Truth 11 agosto 2016
McDonough, S. P., McEwen, B. J.
Veterinary forensic pathology is emerging as a distinct discipline, and this special issue is a major step forward in establishing the scientific basis of the discipline. A forensic necropsy uses the same skill set needed for investigations of natural disease, but the analytical framework and purpose of forensic pathology differ significantly. The requirement of legal credibility and all that it entails distinguishes the forensic from routine diagnostic cases. Despite the extraordinary depth and breadth of knowledge afforded by their training, almost 75% of veterinary pathologists report that their training has not adequately prepared them to handle forensic cases. Many veterinary pathologists, however, are interested and willing to develop expertise in the discipline. Lessons learned from tragic examples of wrongful convictions in medical forensic pathology indicate that a solid foundation for the evolving discipline of veterinary forensic pathology requires a commitment to education, training, and certification. The overarching theme of this issue is that the forensic necropsy is just one aspect in the investigation of a case of suspected animal abuse or neglect. As veterinary pathologists, we must be aware of the roles filled by other veterinary forensic experts involved in these cases and how our findings are an integral part of an investigation. We hope that the outcome of this special issue of the journal is that veterinary pathologists begin to familiarize themselves with not only forensic pathology but also all aspects of veterinary forensic science.
- Demystifying the Courtroom: Everything the Veterinary Pathologist Needs to Know About Testifying in an Animal Cruelty Case 11 agosto 2016
When veterinary pathologists testify as expert witnesses in animal cruelty trials, they may find themselves in an intimidating and unfamiliar environment. The legal rules are clouded in mystery, the lawyers dwell on mundane details, and the witness’s words are extracted with precision by a verbal scalpel. An unprepared expert witness can feel ungrounded and stripped of confidence. The goal of this article is to lift the veil of mystery and give the veterinary pathologist the tools to be a knowledgeable and confident expert witness before and during testimony. This article discusses the types of expert witnesses, disclosure requirements and the importance of a good report, the legal basics of expert testimony, and how to be an effective expert witness. The article references Minnesota law; however, the laws are similar in most jurisdictions and based on the same constitutional requirements, and the concepts presented are applicable in nearly every courtroom.1
- Nondrowning Asphyxia in Veterinary Forensic Pathology: Suffocation, Strangulation, and Mechanical Asphyxia 11 agosto 2016
McEwen, B. J.
Asphyxia in a forensic context refers to death by rapid cerebral anoxia or hypoxia due to accidental or nonaccidental injury. Death due to nondrowning asphyxia can occur with strangulation, suffocation, and mechanical asphyxia, each of which is categorized based on the mechanism of injury. Individuals dying due to various types of asphyxia may or may not have lesions, and even those lesions that are present may be due to other causes. The interpretation or opinion that death was due to asphyxia requires definitive and compelling evidence from the postmortem examination, death scene, and/or history. Beyond the postmortem examination, pathologists may be faced with questions of forensic importance that revolve around the behavioral and physiological responses in animals subjected to strangulation, suffocation, or mechanical asphyxia to determine if the animal suffered. While there is no prescriptive answer to these questions, it is apparent that, because of physiological and anatomical differences between humans and animals, for some mechanisms of asphyxia, consciousness is maintained for longer periods and the onset of death is later in animals than that described for people. Veterinary pathologists must be cognizant that direct extrapolation from the medical forensic literature to animals may be incorrect. This article reviews the terminology, classification, mechanisms, and lesions associated with asphyxial deaths in companion animals and highlights significant comparative differences of the response to various types of asphyxia in animals and people.
- A Perspective on Veterinary Forensic Pathology and Medicine in the United Kingdom 11 agosto 2016
Newbery, S. G., Cooke, S. W., Martineau, H. M.
Internationally, forensic medicine and pathology are increasingly recognized as an important aspect of work done by veterinary clinicians and veterinary pathologists. In this article, a forensic veterinary clinician, a forensic veterinary pathologist in private practice, and a forensic veterinary pathologist at a veterinary school discuss the interactions among veterinary clinicians, veterinary pathologists, and law enforcement agencies and how future interactions can be improved. The focus is on the United Kingdom, but many of the principles, challenges, and suggestions are applicable to other jurisdictions. Clinicians and pathologists require forensic training to enable them to apply their veterinary knowledge to suspected cases of animal abuse and to subsequently present their findings and conclusions to a court of law in a concise, professional, and unbiased manner, and some opportunities for such advanced training in the United Kingdom are indicated. It is important that forensic veterinary clinicians and pathologists interact in an unbiased and collegial manner to answer the questions posed by courts of law. Opportunities for improved training, communication, and interaction among forensic veterinarians, forensic scientists, and law enforcement are discussed.
- Perianesthetic Mortality in Domestic Animals: A Retrospective Study of Postmortem Lesions and Review of Autopsy Procedures 11 agosto 2016
Autopsy of animals that die in the perianesthetic period allows identification of anesthetic and surgical complications as well as preexisting disease conditions that may have contributed to mortality. In most studies to date investigating perianesthetic mortality in animals, inclusion of autopsy data is very limited. This retrospective study evaluated autopsy findings in 221 cases of perianesthetic death submitted to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory from primary care and referral hospitals. Canine (n = 105; 48%) and feline (n = 90; 41%) cases predominated in the study, involving elective (71%) and emergency (19%) procedures. The clinical history provided to the pathologist was considered incomplete in 42 of 221 cases (19%), but this history was considered essential for evaluating the circumstances of perianesthetic death. Disease had been recognized clinically in 69 of 221 animals (31%). Death occurred in the premedication or sedation (n = 19; 9%), induction (n = 22; 11%), or maintenance (n = 73; 35%) phases or in the 24 hours postanesthesia (n = 93 animals; 45%). Lesions indicative of significant natural disease were present in 130 of 221 animals (59%), mainly involving the heart, upper respiratory tract, or lungs. Surgical or anesthesia-associated complications were identified in 10 of 221 cases (5%). No lesions were evident in 80 of 221 animals (36%), the majority of which were young, healthy, and undergoing elective surgical procedures. Lesions resulting from cardiopulmonary resuscitation were identified in 75 of 221 animals (34%). Investigation of perianesthetic death cases should be done with knowledge of prior clinical findings and antemortem surgical and medical procedures; the autopsy should particularly focus on the cardiovascular and respiratory system, including techniques to identify pneumothorax and venous air embolism.