Wear a mask when performing lumbar punctures!
An Ohio newspaper reports that two women developed meningitis recently due to Streptococcus salivarius after undergoing spinal anesthesia by the same anesthesiologist. It was noted that the anesthesiologist did not wear a mask during the procedures. One of the women died. Such cases have been increasingly recognized over the last several years, and occur when the saliva of a healthcare worker performing a lumbar puncture for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes contaminates the spinal needle which is in direct communication with the CSF. This can easily occur if the operator is talking when performing the procedure. For this reason, CDC specifically recommended that masks be worn during such procedures in its latest guideline on isolation precautions (p. 69 of this document).