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Unknown illness appeared to spread from woman to deputies, hospital staff

The Coos County Haz Mat Team responded to Bay Area Hospital and the residence on East Bay Road. The team cleared the emergency room and provided a protocal to the sheriff's office to decontaminate vehicles and equipment. (Coos County Sheriff's Office)

NORTH BEND, Ore. - Five people fell ill from an unknown hazardous material that appears to be spreading by contact and causing hallucinations, the Coos County Sheriff's Office said.

A hazmat team responded to both Bay Area Hospital and a home on East Bay Road as the symptoms spread from a woman to deputies, a person under the woman's care and a hospital employee, the sheriff's office said.

The Coos Bay Haz Mat Team has not yet identified the source, but it appears to be passing through contact, not the air, the sheriff's office said.

The situation started around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Here is the account so far from the sheriff's office:

A 57-year-old woman reported someone vandalizing her vehicle around 3 a.m. outside the home where she works as a caregiver for a 78-year-old person on East Bay Road in North Bend.

A deputy checked the area and found nothing.

Deputies were called back to the home at 5:30 a.m. by a similar report.

This time, the deputies suspect the woman might be having medical issues causing hallucinations.

The woman was taken to Bay Area Hospital for examination. Medical personnel checked her, she appeared fine, and returned home.

Then one of the deputies began showing similar symptoms and had to be evaluated at the hospital.

Then the other deputy, the 78-year-old cared for by the initial patient, and a hospital employee started showing similar symptoms and had to be hospitalized.

The Coos County Haz Mat Team responded to Bay Area Hospital and the residence on East Bay Road. The team cleared the emergency room and provided a protocol to the sheriff's office to decontaminate vehicles and equipment.

"Officers and medical person are all responding well to current treatment," Sgt. Pat Downing wrote in a press release. "Nothing has been found in blood samples at this time. Repeat: source of contamination has not been identified. Investigation and processing is continuing."

As of late morning, the hazmat team was at the home on East Bay Road.

The team completed a check of the house around 1:30 p.m.

"No source of contaminate has been identified or found," Downing said in a press release.

"Initial investigations believed that a medication used in patch form may have been the source. Investigation has found that all those patches and potential medications that may have caused the symptoms have been accounted for," according to Downing. "No source of the contamination has been found. The vehicles, equipment and uniforms have been checked with no contaminates identified or located on or about them."

Everyone involved was treated and released from the hospital.

The hospital worker "as found to have been recently exposed to the flu and continues to display flu like symptoms and is being monitored," Downing wrote.

Investigation is ongoing.

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