18 homeless people contract an unidentified illness in Los Angeles

Tents used by the homeless line a downtown Los Angeles street with the skyline behind Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. Los Angeles officials say they will declare a state of emergency on homelessness and propose spending $100 million to reduce the number of people living on city streets. City Council President Herb Wesson, members of the council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the plan Tuesday outside City Hall, as homeless people dozed nearby on a lawn.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – At least 18 people got suddenly sick in the Skid Row section of downtown Los Angeles from an unidentified illicit substance.

Los Angeles Fire Department officials say paramedics responded to the area at about 10 a.m. on Friday and took 18 people to hospitals from the downtown area where the homeless gather.

Fire department spokesman Brian Humphries said the group of people, believed to be homeless, showed the same symptoms, having difficulty with muscular coordination, slurring their speech and vomiting.

Officials have not yet determined what may have caused the sicknesses but say they do believe it was contact with an illicit substance.

Firefighters are attending to several others in the area who may also have taken the substance and said they expect more patients overnight.

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