Abuse And Neglect

Although most of the applications of entomological evidence involve the dead, in some instances entomological evidence may involve living victims. In these instances, the maggots are encountered feeding on live tissues. This is a condition known as myiasis and is an obligate condition in the life cycles of many flies, primarily in the families Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae. In other species of flies, myiasis may be a facultative situation. Stages of development recovered from wounds or sores on children, the elderly, or those otherwise unable to care for themselves can be used to document the period of abuse or neglect.

An additional potential problem is in situations in which myiasis occurs prior to death. If the sites of infestations are not noted, the period of development of the maggots on the living individual may be added to the postmortem development, thus increasing the estimated time since death. Any departure from the normal pattern of arthropod invasion of a corpse should be a cause for care in interpretation of entomological evidence.

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