BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A mysterious illness spreads through a Johns Hopkins facility, sending more than a dozen employees to the hospital.

Jessica Kartalija reports from North Baltimore with the latest.

Hazmat crews arrived at the Keswick building just before 10 a.m. after several employees began to feel sick.

One by one, employees in the Keswick South building were loaded into ambulances.

In all, 17 people were rushed to area hospitals after suddenly becoming ill.

“Trouble breathing, unknown cause of the illness; it’s under investigation.  Hazmat has been performing sweeps of the building,” explained Connor Scott, Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management.

Hundreds of employees were immediately evacuated.

“The announcement came over the PA system telling everyone to evacuate the building,” said Shante Chappell.

Some didn’t want to go on camera.

“We kept hearing sirens, and my manager came in and we said ‘What’s all the sirens?’ Next thing you know they made the announcement to vacate the building, and next thing you know we’ve been out here for 40 minutes,” said an employee who asked to remain anonymous.

It’s still unclear what caused the illness.

“We checked the area for carbon monoxide, oxygen levels, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide and lower explosive limit,” said Battalion Chief Lawrence Goldberg.

We’re told more than 1,000 Johns Hopkins Hospital and university employees work at the Keswick building.  Patients aren’t seen here. It’s for administration only.

Emergency officials were hesitant to let people leave for the day in case they should carry something home with them.

“I don’t want to go back in until they clear the building.  Make sure it’s safe.  I’m afraid to eat or drink anything and get sick,” one employee said.

It’s still unclear what caused the illness to spread so quickly.

Employees who are feeling sick Tuesday evening are urged to call 911.

Two buildings make up the Keswick complex. Only employees in the south building were evacuated.

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