Malicious Toxicoses: Are Veterinarians Keeping Up With Internet-Enabled Poisoners?
In the last decade there has been an incalculable proliferation of sources of data available to the public at no cost and with very little effort--the amazing contribution of the internet to our modern culture. However, not all these data sources are regarded as being positive augmentations to society, as for instance child pornography and terrorism also have flourishing devotees. Other negative elements of the public--people that maliciously poison pet or wild animals--may also be learning from the internet. Serious tomes on toxicology were in the past largely confined to libraries not freely open to the general public, and therefore people seeking toxicants to poison animals would have had a difficult time finding suitable substances. Such poisons should ideally be without taste or smell, would act without manifesting characteristic signs, would be difficult for veterinary toxicologists to analyze (or even think of analyzing) and would be difficult to treat. Now that the internet is ever-increasing in content and ease of searching, it is much easier for a dedicated reasonably intelligent person to search for the ideal toxicant suitable for any species (even from abstracts of veterinary congresses!). It may be that some toxicoses may be going undiagnosed in animals due to this sophistication.
Concurrent with these developments, the veterinary diagnostician must expand his differential diagnoses to include toxicants that would not normally be encountered in the neighborhood of pet or wild animals, but that might have been purposely given to induce poisoning. On one hand the laboratory wants to publish that it can examine for specific toxicants, but on the other hand it does not want to "give ideas" to potential poisoners. This presentation will discuss these factors, giving examples from internet sites and from actual toxicoses, together with detailing easily conducted toxicology screens that diagnostic laboratories should include in their analyses.