Contact tracing is a disease management tool used to control outbreaks. Following the confirmation of a Lassa fever case, contact tracers try to identify and follow up anyone whom that person has been in contact with. Contact tracing is viewed as a critical strategy required for timely prevention and control of Lassa fever. However these imposed forms of external surveillance can be rejected because people feel stigmatised or policed and are unwilling to undergo quarantine or other supervision measures during the incubation period of the virus. In some countries, case investigation, contact tracing and searches for infected animals are conducted at the same time. This provides an opportunity to share information with community members about Lassa fever. Recent Lassa fever outbreaks have shown that primary transmission from rodent to human can be ongoing. Therefore, rodent control should be encouraged during contact tracing activities. Social science research can help us understand the barriers for Lassa surveillance and control as well as the ways in which disease control activities can be politicised, or the ways in which local political/economic history might create mistrust between communities and contact tracing teams. Social scientists can also help to identify ways to improve trust and information sharing between communities and contact tracing or active case finding teams.
- Quarantine should be avoided if there are other reasonable methods of monitoring contacts.
- When quarantine is necessary this should come with adequate support including food supplies and compensation for those who, for example, lost their jobs during the period of quarantine.