A problem closely related to epidemiology, where a subgraph of ‘infected’ links is defined inside a larger network, is investigated. This subgraph is generated from the underlying network by a random variable, which decides whether a link is able to propagate a disease/information. The relaxation timescale of this random variable is examined in both annealed and quenched limits, and the effectiveness of propagation of disease/information is analyzed. The dynamics of the model is governed by a master equation and two types of underlying network are considered: one is scale-free and the other has exponential degree distribution. We have shown that the relaxation timescale of the contagion variable has a major influence on the topology of the subgraph of infected links, which determines the efficiency of spreading of disease/information over the network.