Two more cases of salmonella have emerged at ACT nursing homes, part of an outbreak of the disease in aged care centres across NSW and the ACT that has already left two dead.
The vast majority of the cases are resident of centres run by the Illawarra Retirement Trust (IRT), but the cause of the outbreak is yet to be identified by authorities.
The outbreak of the salmonella subtype bovismorbificans has now infected 27 people all up in NSW and the ACT, leaving nine people in hospital and prompting the company to call in industrial cleaning experts.
IRT said they were aware of two cases on Tuesday and have now been alerted to a third case at their Kangara Waters property in Belconnen which a spokesman said was confirmed on Wednesday.
"I can confirm that there are currently three cases of salmonella among IRT residents at the Belconnen care centre and 24 cases across IRT care centres.
"The third IRT case in the ACT was confirmed yesterday," an IRT spokesman said on Thursday.
The fourth case is at an aged care centre run by a different company, but an IRT offshoot, IRT Catering, supplies many aged care providers in the ACT and NSW.
ACT Health said, however, that they were still firming up confirmation of the third IRT Belconnen case.
Canberra IRT residents and their guardians were formally notified of the issue on February 6, according to the company.
IRT Group chief executive Nieves Murray said they were working with ACT Health to find the cause of the infection.
"The NSW Food Authority and ACT Health have conducted rigorous scientific testing at the affected care centres ... over the past two weeks," she said.
IRT has brought in outside specialists as an extra precaution and reinforced food hygiene and infection control procedures.
So far, the NSW Food Authority and ACT Health have found no evidence of salmonella at any of IRT's kitchens and said adequate controls were in place.
NSW Health Communicable Diseases Branch director Dr Vicky Sheppeard said one of the two people who died after contracting the disease in NSW also had underlying health problems.
As the investigation widens, Illawarra wholesale bakery Betta Maid, an IRT supplier, was investigated by the NSW Food Authority on Wednesday.
The business passed inspection and was allowed to reopen.
Salmonellosis is a notifiable condition in the ACT and health authorities have also warned that it was possible that further cases may arise as investigations continue.
ACT Health said they are taking the case very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation.