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Contact tracing is the activity of identifying the relevant contacts of a person with an infectious disease (index patient) and ensuring that they are aware of their exposure and implement necessary measures. The term relevant reflects specificity of the actual disease in terms of person, place and time.
Contact – case definition
Contact tracing is defined as the identification and follow-up of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person. Contact tracing is an important part of epidemiologic investigation and active surveillance. (WHO)
Persons can be labelled as contacts if they comply with the definition of the contact; they spent sufficient time and in physical proximity with the index case that has stage of disease suitable for transmission.
Why to do contact tracing?
When the contact tracing is done?
In general contact tracing is carried out when the transmission route is a direct contact casual or sexual.
Principles of contact tracing
Principles of contact tracing are the same for all diseases but they differ in length of follow up and frequency of monitoring sessions.
Contact listing and follow up
All persons considered to have had exposure as by the definition of the contact and taking into consideration different risk categories should be listed as contacts, using predefined (standardised) contact listing form.
How far into case history should we investigate?
The periods for potential contact tracing differ among diseases and should be taken as a general guide only:
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Arnold Bosman posted on 11/21/2014 11:46:43 AM:The netherlands contact tracing protocol for HAV considers a case infectious from 1 week before to 2 weeks after onset of icterus. This is shorter than 50 days in the above table. What can we say about evidence of infectivity (note this is not necessarily similar to shedding)
Vladimir Prikazsky replied on 1/25/2015 12:08:46 PM:
Collection (incomplete) of documents on contact tracing in response to Ebola in West Africa:
sbpmebxu replied on 7/29/2015 7:26:28 PM: 1
Eva Patrasova replied on 9/12/2017 12:11:55 PM: Is there any usefull tool for contact tracing, respectively contact management available? I meen function within classical outbreak management software or R package, that would be able to conect and to visualize cases and their contacts in a long term outbreak with person to person transmition. We are dealing with a larg hepatitis A outbreak using MS Office tools, but its hard to keep and control a dateset of more then 100 cases with over 1000 contacts altogether. Thanks Eva
Vladimir Prikazsky replied on 9/12/2017 2:33:24 PM:
“NodeXL”, which is a free Excel extension for contact networks. We (Florian) used in a 90+ person TB outbreak to great success.
Vladimir Prikazsky replied on 9/14/2017 9:25:45 AM:
Interesting software for contact tracing in R:
EpiContactTrace: an R-package for contact tracing during livestock disease outbreaks and for risk-based surveillance.
Anybody wants to try also in human disease outbreaks?
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