Microbial Forensics for Natural and Intentional Incidents of Infectious Disease Involving Animals
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RIVERDALE MD ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE
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Microbial forensics is a relatively new scientific discipline dedicated to analysing microbiological evidence from a crime for attribution purposes. It builds on traditional microbiology and epidemiology but within a legal framework. Important motives for forensic investigations include interdiction of criminals, prosecution of justice, and ideally, deterrence of others from committing similar acts. Forensic capabilities in animal health should focus on building capacity for detection and reporting of increases in infectious disease morbidity and mortality among animals that might reflect a covert release of a pathogen. Suspicion should be raised when epidemiological patterns are different from those expected for the animal population and the pathogen in question. Existing capacities for the detection and reporting of epidemic and even endemic diseases should be an international priority for the prevention of catastrophic losses in animal and potentially in human life. The veterinary community needs to be more aware of the legal requirements related to forensic investigations so that veterinarians will be prepared to handle evidence properly within their own fields.