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J R Soc Interface. 2006 Feb 22;3(6):55-62.

Infectious disease control using contact tracing in random and scale-free networks.

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  • 1University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.


Contact tracing aims to identify and isolate individuals that have been in contact with infectious individuals. The efficacy of contact tracing and the hierarchy of traced nodes-nodes with higher degree traced first-is investigated and compared on random and scale-free (SF) networks with the same number of nodes N and average connection K. For values of the transmission rate larger than a threshold, the final epidemic size on SF networks is smaller than that on corresponding random networks. While in random networks new infectious and traced nodes from all classes have similar average degrees, in SF networks the average degree of nodes that are in more advanced stages of the disease is higher at any given time. On SF networks tracing removes possible sources of infection with high average degree. However a higher tracing effort is required to control the epidemic than on corresponding random networks due to the high initial velocity of spread towards the highly connected nodes. An increased latency period fails to significantly improve contact tracing efficacy. Contact tracing has a limited effect if the removal rate of susceptible nodes is relatively high, due to the fast local depletion of susceptible nodes.

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