Contact tracing is intended to prevent onward transmission of infectious diseases. It involves:
- Identifying cases of the disease.
- Deciding whether, and if so, for how long, they are likely to have been infectious.
- Interviewing the case, where possible, and or proxies for the case as necessary, to identify contacts of the case during the period in which they are thought likely to have been infections, and who may be at risk of the disease. For example:
- Contact tracing for cases of sexually transmitted infections would involve identifying their sexual partners;
- Contact tracing for cases of tuberculosis would include people who have had close, prolonged contact with the case; and
- Contact tracing for cases of meningococcal disease involves identifying close household contacts, sexual partners, and occasionally healthcare workers involved in airway management.
- Testing/screening contacts for the disease, and/or offering preventive treatment such as chemoprophylaxis, as appropriate.