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54 residents fall ill

Two people have died and 18 others have been hospitalized after a "respiratory outbreak" at a Virginia retirement community, according to officials.

The Fairfax County Department of Health said that it had 54 individuals with chronic respiratory illnesses in the past 10 days at Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield.

ABC News Affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington D.C., Greenspring as "fever, cough, body aches, wheezing, hoarseness and general weakness."

Benjamin Schwartz, a health department director, told ABC News on Thursday that the outbreak was reported in the nursing-living and skilled-nursing sections. He said the break with the first case on June 30.

PHOTO: The sign for Greenspring Retirement Community is shown in Springfield, Virgina.
The sign for Greenspring Retirement Community is shown in Springfield, Virgina.

The specific cause of the outbreak was identified with additional tests of samples being done, according to Schwartz.

The assisted living and nursing homes in Greenspring is home to 263 residents, Schwartz said. He said the two patients who died in hospital with pneumonia were "older patients with complex medical problems."

"One of the things about assisted nursing facilities and assisted living facilities is [that] When you have a lot of people in your area, there is an increased risk for outbreaks, "said he." Seeing a respiratory outbreak in a long-term care facility is not odd. … One thing that's different about this outbreak is just that, it's actually in the summer when we usually have a lot of respiratory disease. "

Of those initially hospitalized, said Courtney Benoff, Regional Communications Manager for Erikson Living, which owns the retirement home.

The health department said that there were no new hospitalizations in the "past couple days," residents were still getting sick in the outbreak.

In a statement, Greenspring said that its "highest priority is the welfare of those who live and work on campus."

"In keeping with this commitment, the community has an abundance of responsibility, and in partnership with the Fairfax County Department of Health, we have continued to address these issues. Continuing to provide frequent and transparent updates to residents, staff and family members.

The Fairfax County Health Department said it is investigating the incident.

The department said that it was important to reduce the risk of infection and keep residents safe, including closing the facility to new admissions, canceling groups, keeping their residents in their rooms and increasing cleaning.

Residents experiencing any of these symptoms were urged to call the community's medical center.

ABC News' Amanda Maile, Sarah Herndon and Kyra Phillips contributed to the reporting in this story.

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