The Centre operates on a 24-hour basis. The team includes three lecturers in veterinary
science, a veterinary military assistant and a group of veterinary students, specifically
trained in veterinary toxicology. These students take part in the activities and
management of the Centre and, once trained, become responsible for activities such
as database management, creation of files, bibliographical management and the answering
of emergency and routine calls.
A laboratory for veterinary toxicological analysis is linked to the Centre. Its role
is to detect, identify and measure the toxic compounds responsible for animal poisonings
using biological samples supplied. The relationship between the laboratory and the
Centre is very important, as it allows analytical confirmation that a suspected agent
was indeed responsible for the poisoning. The laboratory also acts as an official
unit for dealing with the poisoning of wild animals; samples from these animals are
sent to Lyons from all over France and the epidemiological data obtained is added
to existing documentation held at the Centre.
The Centre offers a specialized computerized database that is available to veterinary
surgeons via the Minitel telephone information system. More than 500 files or monographs
on toxic substances have been established and are available for reference.
The Centre also has an emergency service to deal with serious or significant cases
of animal mortality, which only comes into operation when activated by state veterinary
departmental services or other official organizations.
Since 1981 all the case data recorded at the Centre and Laboratory have been computerized.
Special attention is paid to evaluation of these data. When a call is received, an
attempt is made to assess whether the agent mentioned is actually responsible for
the poisoning and a 'probability factor' is applied. The bibliography is also computerized
and an information specialist is responsible for the acquisition and management of
all case data.