Cut flowers have tentatively been identified as the cause of a  strange odor inside the Monnouth County Courthouse that forced its evacuation on Friday sending 17 people  to the hospital.

The odor began wafting through the Freehold courthouse at the end of the day. All those affected were treated in a special decontamination tent set up outside of CentraState Medical Center in Freehold and sent home.

In a press release, the County says "cut flowers in an employee area of the courthouse" could be to blame.   "All cut flowers in the courthouse have been disposed of  and county crews will conduct a thorough cleaning of the courthouse this weekend."

Symptoms include  shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, palpitation, rash or dizziness. The county encourages anyone who was in the courthouse experiencing these symptoms to seek medical attention. “We also ask that they contact the county health department at 732-431-7456 to report any symptoms, too," says Kevin Burke, assistant county administrator.

Anyone who visited the Courthouse on Friday should launder their clothes and take a shower.

There was much confusion on Friday afternoon around both the courthouse and the hospital according to Jersey Shore Hurricane News as officials were tightlipped about what was going on as the courthouse was evacuated.