Laura Donahue wasn’t feeling so hot over the Labor Day weekend, but she wasn’t about to let a little gastrointestinal bug stop her from running in the Virginia Beach Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sept. 6.
“When you have spent three months training for something, and I am so healthy,” Donahue said, explaining her rationale for dismissing her body’s signals. “I was just not willing to stare the reality in the face.”
So reality slapped Donahue in the face: She fainted during the race. Her blood pressure dropped and her temperature rose. Once she was stabilized and back home in Arlington, Donahue read the news about the salmonella outbreak tied to Fig & Olive, the New York-based chain that opened a restaurant in CityCenterDC this year. She realized that she had eaten at the restaurant Sept. 2, two days before the Labor Day weekend.
She went to a doctor who took a stool sample for testing.
Donahue didn’t wait for her test results to call the D.C. Department of Health. She’s now one of 70 possible cases tied to Fig & Olive, according to Marcus A. Williams, a spokesman for the health department. Six patients have been confirmed to have salmonella infection. Five live in the District and one in Alexandria.
All 70 “reported eating or drinking at the Fig and Olive establishment,” Williams confirmed via e-mail.
Health officials had collected 10 food and environmental samples from Fig & Olive last week, but they all came back negative, Williams noted. One is being re-tested.
“Additional environment and food testing is underway,” the spokesman e-mailed.
Fig & Olive remained closed Monday and has not set a date to reopen. The chain issued a statement via its local representative:
“We are continuing to make progress on testing and re-testing our products and procedures and sanitizing our facility from top to bottom. We are working with both the Department of Health and with the third-party food safety company we retained. It is premature to discuss any findings at this time but we are working hard to re-open soon.”
Donahue, 36, went back to work Monday, the first time in more than a week she felt good enough to resume her job at Pew Charitable Trusts.
Unlike some other Fig & Olive diners, Donahue recalled eating cucumbers, which were part of her martini. Imported Mexican cucumbers have been linked to an outbreak of salmonella illness, which has affected 341 people in 30 states according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, 70 people across the country have been hospitalized and two have died from infections from salmonella poona, a strain that has been tied to the Mexican cucumbers.
“I would say today is my first day to [feel] normal,” Donahue said Monday. “I missed all week at work. I’ve never missed a day at work, ever, in my whole life.”
Donahue said she was so sick last week that her mother, a nurse in Texas, came to Arlington to care for her.