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Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H.
FILE- This photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 shows the Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H. After more than a year of investigating, New Hampshire's public health department says the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital revealed three main areas for improvement: regulating health care workers, preventing and detecting drug diversion and communication between hospitals and state officials, Friday, June 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Jim Cole), File

An unknown odor caused a New Hampshire emergency room evacuation


Authorities reportedly say they have evacuated the emergency room at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, New Hampshire over an unknown odor.

Ambulances responded to the call and evaluated more than 20 people following calls for assistance around 11:15 a.m. local time.

The incident reportedly started with five staff members in the operating room before several other patients began feeling ill shortly thereafter.

The cause of the odor is being probed, and hospital officials told WBZ that the evacuation was due to an “abundance of caution.”

Some Twitter users on Friday voiced concern over the incident, while others speculated on what could have caused the odor.

WMUR reported that Exeter Hospital’s emergency and operating rooms were evacuated and closed.

Patients and staff reportedly complained of dizziness and nausea, according to WMUR, but the rest of the hospital is safe.

Seacoastonline.com reported that ambulances from Brentwood, Epping, Kingston, Rye and Stratham are helping transport 20-plus patients to other area hospitals.

Firefighters on the scene reportedly radioed that they have begun transporting patients around 12:20 p.m. local time.

Lynn Robbins, a spokeswoman for Portsmouth Regional Hospital, said they were in ongoing communication with Exeter Hospital about moving patients.

Portsmouth Fire Commissioner “Dickie” Gamester said firefighters from Pease Tradeport fire station were asked to help with the matter.

CBS News reported that both the Exeter and Epping Fire Departments say they were dispatched to scene for a potential carbon monoxide leak.

Exeter Town Manager Russell Dean told CBS Boston that the incident first impacted the hospital’s operating room before hitting the emergency room too.

“What we know is patients were being treated in the [operating room] with flu-like symptoms when those treating them also started feeling ill, so the OR was shut down and people were moved to the ER for treatment,” he said.

“The same thing happened there, so the ER was shut down and a staging area has been set up outside the main hospital, with patients being transported to area hospitals,” Dean added.

“At this time we are not sure yet, however the source of the issue is being investigated as a possible leak of some kind.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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