Lab

CeMedForVet

About the lab

CeMedForVet (Centro di Referenza Nazionale per la Medicina Forense Veterinaria), was established by decree of the Italian Ministry of Health in 2009 (G.U. n° 225, 28/09/2009), at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Lazio e Toscana, Grosseto.
CeMedForVet provides technical and scientific support to the judicial authority and police, to investigate criminal acts against wild and domestic animals, including illegal killings, poaching, poisoning, or illegal trades.

More info: http://www.izslt.it/medicinaforense

Featured research (30)

Animal furs are encountering more and more the detriment of public opinion, that is increasingly sensitive to animals, their welfare and protection. The feeling of outrage against animal suffering is particularly intense when cats and dogs are involved, since these are the most popular pets in Western countries. However, in some Asian countries breeding of dogs and cats for the fur industry is a common practice. These furs and their finished garments are often mislabelled in order to be imported and sold to unaware consumers in Western countries. The European Union has issued the Regulation 1523/2007, which bans the use and trade of dog and cat furs. The main purposes of the Regulation were to normalise the internal market and to address the concerns of European consumers about the risk of inadvertently buying products containing these species. The Regulation states that several analytical methods (microscopy, DNA testing and mass spectrometry) can be used to exclude dogs and cats as source species, but an official analytical protocol was not provided. In this paper, we report on the development of a reliable and affordable method for species identification in furs, based on a combined morphological and molecular approach. Our protocol provides an initial morphological analysis as a time and cost effective screening test. Only samples that are morphologically not excluded as canid/felid furs, based on few selected microscopic features, are then submitted to DNA testing. The application of this protocol on seized furs reached 92% identification of species. Our approach assists in identifying frauds and reinforcing the ban on dog and cat fur trade, allowing (1) rapid inexpensive recognition of fake furs, (2) exclusion of non-canid/non-felid furs through fast microscopic morphological screening, (3) overall cost reduction with lower number of samples to be submitted to DNA analysis, (4) analytical protocol to stand in court in case criminal sanctions are to be applied.
Veterinary forensics is a medical discipline, which aims to provide technical and scientific support to the judicial authority and police, to bring to justice those responsible for criminal acts against animals. A growing request for support in investigations by the judicial authority, and a new and marked thoughtfulness of public opinion towards the protection of animals, has led to the need of identifying a specific scientific technical body. CeMedForVet (Centro di Referenza Nazionale per la Medicina Forense Veterinaria), was established by decree of the Italian Ministry of Health in 2009 (G.U. n° 225, 28/09/2009), at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Lazio e Toscana, Grosseto. Main tasks assigned to CeMedForVet concern the development and standardization of laboratory techniques and forensic toxicology for the detection of toxic substances used for malicious purposes; comparative analysis of hairs or other organic samples, using molecular biology techniques, for the suppression of poaching; individual identification (DNA typing), attribution of paternity, identification of sex, and recognition of intraspecific hybrids using forensic genetics techniques. CeMedForVet provides technical and scientific support to the judicial authority and police, to investigate criminal acts against wild and domestic animals, including illegal killings, poaching, poisoning, or illegal trades. The role of the forensic veterinarian in poaching cases is to look for elements that could connect the three actors of poaching, namely the crime scene, the animal victim and the offender. In this process, some major steps can be identified where application of best practice is essential to achieve accurate and fair criminal justice. The final technical report can answer questions about cause of death, manner of death, post-mortem interval, and any other non-accidental injury. Compliance with code of criminal procedure, chain of custody and trace integrity are to be assured at any time during the forensic process. Forensic necropsy should be performed according to published national guidelines, including photographic documentation with metric reference, skinning of the carcass, and careful inspection of gastrointestinal contents (both macro- and micro-scopic). During the necropsy, the pathologist may acquire new evidence and/or assign evidence to other labs (toxicology, histology, entomology, ballistics, ). In about 9 years of activity, CeMedForVet provided support in 930 poisoning cases, performed 863 forensic necropsies and 4250 forensic genetic analyses, provided 182 qualified expert testimonies and technical consultancies, 134 training events, 28 peer-reviewed publications on international journals, more than 70 participation in national and international conferences, and published 7 informative manuals. Keywords: forensic genetics, necropsy, poaching, poisoning, veterinary forensics

Lab head

Rosario Fico
Department
  • National Reference Centre for Veterinary Forensic Medicine
About Rosario Fico
  • Rosario Fico currently works at the National Reference Centre for Veterinary Forensic Medicine, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e Toscana "M. Aleandri". Rosario does research in Forensic Science, Evolutionary Biology and Zoology. Their current project is 'Veterinary forensic science'.

Members (3)

Luisa Garofalo
  • L'Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e Toscana
Rita Lorenzini
  • L'Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e Toscana
Goffredo Grifoni
  • L'Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e Toscana