WASHINGTON, DC - Downstairs bar area at Fig + Olive restaurant photographed in Washington, DC. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post). (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

The D.C. Department of Health has suspended operations at Fig & Olive, the sleek new restaurant at CityCenterDC, while officials try to determine the source of an outbreak that has hospitalized at least four people with symptoms similar to salmonella illness.

The department spent a second day on Thursday collecting environmental and food samples at the restaurant. A local spokeswoman for the New York-based Fig & Olive chain, which opened the location in the District in June, said they are cooperating with the health department on the investigation and have hired a third-party consultant to work through the process.

So far, the heath department has identified 20 possible cases of salmonella illness, but only two have been confirmed, said spokesman Marcus A. Williams. Sibley Memorial Hospital officials said three patients were admitted over the Labor Day weekend with confirmed salmonella infections. Those three cases were reported to the Department of Health on Tuesday, said Gary Stephenson, spokesman for Sibley.

“Right now, as we know it, it’s two” confirmed cases, said Williams, the health department spokesman. “We’re waiting for an update from the hospital.”

The number of confirmed cases could grow as more test results come back or as other diners get tested.

Since one woman was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Tuesday with symptons like those of salmonella illness after dining at the restaurant, according to her boyfriend, who spoke on the condition that he not be named to protect their privacy, a number of other diners have come forward.

Janet Turim, Heather Lepko­wicz and two other colleagues were trying to put the day behind them on Sept. 1 at Fig & Olive. They were enjoying drinks and luxuriating over a meal of Moroccan-spiced chicken, rosemary lamb chops and other dishes that, by their own account, lived up to their expectations.

Within 48 hours, all four of the Arnold & Porter law firm employees were sick, some more than others.

Turim missed two days of work. On Sept. 4, she went to her doctor.

“We thought it was just food poisoning,” said Turim, a payroll manager at the law firm. “They didn’t give me any antibiotics or anything.”

Lepkowicz says she didn’t have it as bad as her colleagues, but she still had to leave work early for a few days. She went to her doctor on Tuesday, a week after the dinner. “Even now, I can’t eat a full meal,” Lepkowicz said on Thursday. “It’s not gone yet, for sure.”

Neither Turim nor Lepkowicz has been diagnosed with a salmonella infection, although Lepkowicz said she is still waiting on test results.

One Sibley patient, who spoke on the condition that she not be named to protect her privacy, said she had dined at Fig & Olive on Aug. 31. Two days later, she started to experience “excruciating abdominal pain.” She initially went to an emergency room, but when the symptoms persisted, she checked into Sibley on Tuesday, more than a week after she ate at the restaurant. She is awaiting the results of her culture, but doctors are treating her symptoms as salmonella-related, she said.

“I haven’t eaten since last Wednesday,” she said. She’s been dehydrated and weak, barely able to move from her hospital bed. “It’s not good.”

No single dish or ingredient seems to be the source of the illnesses, according to the diners contacted. Turim and Lepkowicz shared entrees and appetizers among the four colleagues at their table. Aside from the chicken and lamb chops, they also ordered truffled risotto, a cheese plate, crostini and a dessert sampler. They also had water and drinks. To one degree or another, they all got sick.

But the Sibley patient, a practicing attorney, also shared plates with her two dining companions, neither of whom experienced symptoms of salmonella illness afterward. They ordered a variety of appetizers and entrees: crostini, beef carpaccio, seared salmon, chocolate pot de creme, truffled mushroom croquettes and other dishes. They also had drinks and water.

“It must have been on my glass or something, because neither my colleague nor my client got sick,” the Sibley patient said.

Her experience would appear to dovetail with another patient who was hospitalized at GW. The other patient had not eaten anything at Fig & Olive; she had only two glasses of champagne and water.

None of the contacted diners recalled eating cucumbers. Imported Mexican cucumbers have been linked to a current 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. So far, 70 people have been hospitalized and two have died from infections from Salmonella poona tied to the cucumbers.

The health department is not sure when test results of the environmental and food samples from Fig & Olive will come back. “We don’t have a hard date and time,” Williams said.

This story has been updated.