VICTORIA—A British Columbia man has died of a rare viral rabies infection, the first such case in the province since 2003.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the man was in contact with a bat in mid-May and developed symptoms compatible with rabies six weeks later.
She said in a news release that while the exposure in this case was on Vancouver Island, bats in all areas of B.C. are known to carry rabies.
The Health Ministry is not releasing further information about the man to ensure privacy for his family.
The news release said family members, close community contacts and health care workers who cared for the man are being assessed and given post-exposure rabies preventative measures if needed.
The release said overall in Canada, there have been only 24 known cases of viral rabies infections since the 1920s, and the most recent cases were in Ontario in 2012 and Alberta in 2007.
It added that bats are the only known carriers of the rabies virus in the province and about 13 percent of bats tested in B.C. are positive for rabies.
“This presents an ongoing risk for people and for companion animals, such as cats and dogs. It is important to ensure pets' rabies vaccinations are up to date. If you believe your pet has had contact with a bat, consult your veterinarian.”