A 21-year-old B.C. man has died of a viral rabies infection, the province’s first confirmed death from the disease since 2003.
According to the ministry, the man came in contact with a bat on Vancouver Island in mid-May.
However, it says the patient did not manifest any symptoms until six weeks later.
According to the ministry, the victim’s family says the bat did not bite or scratch him.
It says the patient passed away at St. Paul’s Hospital this weekend.
WATCH: A B.C. man who contracted the rabies virus after coming into contact with a bat has passed away.
The victim’s family, close contacts and health workers are being assessed and given post-rabies preventive measures where necessary, it said.
An investigation into the death is underway, said a ministry spokesperson.
According to the federal government, there have been just 25 known fatal cases of human rabies infection in Canada since the 1920s. It said the most recent cases were in Ontario in 2012 and Alberta in 2007.
According to the province, bats are the only known rabies carriers in B.C., with about 13 per cent of the animals testing positive for it.
It says anyone who comes in contact with a bat, whether or not they are bitten or scratched, should wash the area with soap and water and then contact a health-care provider.
The ministry also says people should ensure their pets’ rabies vaccinations are up to date.
WATCH: Sussex area man receiving rabies treatment after bat bite