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Introducing forensic entomology in cases of suspected animal neglect
  1. John McGarry, MSc, PhD1,
  2. Emily Ratsep, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS2,
  3. Lorenzo Ressel, DVM PhD FHEA DiplECVP MRCVS1,
  4. Gail Leeming, BVetMedMPhil PhD FRCPath MRCVS1,
  5. Emanuele Ricci, DVM, PhD1,
  6. Ranieri Verin, DVM, PhD, DipECZM, DiplECVP, MRCVS1,
  7. Richard Blundell, BVetMed MSc PhDDipl.ECVP FHEA MRCVS1,
  8. Anja Kipar,, DiplECVP, FRCPath, FTA & FVH (Pathologie)1,3,
  9. Udo Hetzel, Dr rer nat, Dr med vet1,3 and
  10. James Yeates, PhD, FRCVS4
  1. 1 Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4 Royal society of the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, Redhill, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondenceDepartment of Veterinary Pathology & Public Health; J.W.Mcgarry{at}


Cases of arthropod-infested, abandoned or abused animals are sometimes brought to the attention of veterinarians by animal welfare authorities, with the requirement for a full postmortem examination towards criminal or civil proceedings. In these situations, entomology is an important support tool for the pathologists’ investigation since the presence of arthropod life cycle stages serve as reliable forensic markers, especially for blowflies which form the first waves of activity following death. In the present study, 70 cadavers from a total of 544 referred to the Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, between 2009 and 2014 displayed evidence of infestation. Here, the authors introduce principles of applied entomology and simplified approaches for estimating the minimum time since death, relevant in the context of routine submissions and the broad remit of individual cases. Despite often limited availability of scene of the crime and local thermal data, the interpretation of the minimum postmortem interval has nonetheless proved valuable as an adjunct to the expert pathology report. However, future developments and enhanced accuracy in this area of animal welfare require resource and training in expertise, and agreed standardisation of both laboratory and field procedures.

  • forensic
  • entomology
  • pathology
  • neglect
  • post mortem interval
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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. The title has been changed from: "Introducing forensic entomology in cases of suspect animal neglect" to "Introducing forensic entomology in cases of suspected animal neglect".

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