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No definitive cause of staff sickness that prompted Exeter Hospital evacuation

Updated:

EXETER, N.H. - Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire was evacuated Friday morning and extra ambulances were called in after a mysterious illness sickened nearly 20 staff members.

The ordeal began around 9 a.m. with workers in the operating room feeling very sick. Firefighters said there was no liquid spilled, no odor of gas, just several people becoming nauseous within a short period of time.

As of Friday evening, officials say the first round of results have come in and there are no definitive findings.

“They’re going to go back in for a second round of testing and they’re also turning on some HVAC equipment and moving the air and their going to do another intensive round of testing,” said Director of Communications Deb Vasapoli.

The second round of testing was completed by 8 p.m. Friday and also came back negative.

The emergency room at the hospital will reopen as soon as possible, officials said the hope it could be as early as Saturday morning. The operating room is expected to stay closed throughout the weekend because there are no scheduled procedures. 

“We are confident that we exhausted all things we can to find the source,” Assistant Fire Chief Eric Wilkins said.

Ambulances were called in and over 60 firefighters responded, transporting those sick to other area hospitals.

All 19 staff members who were sick had recovered by Friday night.