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WP 7: International contact tracing after exposure to infectious diseases

The objective

To develop a tool to facilitate and support risk assessment and the decision making process by public health officials with regard to the initiation of contact tracing after exposure to infectious diseases on public ground transport.

Executive summary of Work Package 7

Exposure to infectious diseases in public transport may put passengers at risk of infection and of developing a disease. Contact tracing of passengers who travelled by public ground transport is a resource intensive process; hence it is of importance to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of each case and setting.

No recommendations or guidance have yet been published to whether contact tracing should be undertaken after potential exposure to infectious diseases in public ground transport; moreover the frequency of transmission of communicable diseases during travel by rail or bus/coach remains largely unknown.

European passenger transport data was analyzed; scientific and non-scientific literature was systematically reviewed for evidence of infectious disease transmission in ground transport and to evaluate potential factors relevant to disease transmission. In addition, structured expert input including the Delphi-Method provided further information.

The REACT project developed a “Contact Tracing-Risk Assessment Profile” (CT-RAP) to be used as a risk assessment tool to aid the decision on contact tracing in public ground transport. The results are displayed in CT-RAP´s for tuberculosis, meningococcal disease and measles. Each CT-RAP gives a disease specific overview of relevant epidemiological criteria (Epi Criteria) and their associated values. The background information includes disease specific considerations and fact sheets, as well as the rationale for the selection of Epi Criteria related values.

The REACT CT-RAP combines evidence retrieved from scientific literature with expert knowledge to provide support for decision making by public health institutions.

Selected literature, key documents and guidelines concerning WP 7 are available on the website. Public health institutions are invited to use the tool. We would appreciate feedback on applicability.

Click here to contact work package lead: Robert Koch Institute, Germany

Date: 17.12.2013


  • Mohr O, Hermes J, Schink SB, Askar M, Menucci D, Swaan C, Goetsch U, Monk P, Eckmanns T, Poggensee G, Krause G (2013): Development of a risk assessment tool for contact tracing people after contact with infectious patients while travelling by bus or other public ground transport: a Delphi consensus approach
    BMJ Open 3 (10): art. no. e002939. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002939. more

  • Mohr O, Askar M, Schink SB, Eckmanns T, Krause G, Poggensee G (2012): Evidence for airborne infectious disease transmission in public ground transport – a literature review
    Euro Surveill. 17 (35): pii=20255. more

  • Askar M, Mohr O, Eckmanns T, Krause G, Poggensee G (2012): Quantitative assessment of passenger flows in Europe and its implications for tracing contacts of infectious passengers
    Euro Surveill. 17 (24): pii=20195. more