The tracing of potentially infectious contacts has become an important part of the control strategy for many infectious diseases, from early cases of novel infections to endemic sexually transmitted infections. Here, we make use of mathematical models to consider the case of partner notification for sexually transmitted infection, however these models are sufficiently simple to allow more general conclusions to be drawn. We show that, when contact network structure is considered in addition to contact tracing, standard “mass action” models are generally inadequate. To consider the impact of mutual contacts (specifically clustering) we develop an improvement to existing pairwise network models, which we use to demonstrate that ceteris paribus, clustering improves the efficacy of contact tracing for a large region of parameter space. This result is sometimes reversed, however, for the case of highly effective contact tracing. We also develop stochastic simulations for comparison, using simple re-wiring methods that allow the generation of appropriate comparator networks. In this way we contribute to the general theory of network-based interventions against infectious disease
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