Rare form of rabies in B.C.

The province has confirmed a rare case of viral rabies.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news release early Monday evening, an adult male, who subsequently died, came in contact with a bat in mid-May on Vancouver Island.

He developed symptoms compatible with rabies six weeks later.

"While the exposure in this case was on Vancouver Island, bats in all areas of B.C. are known to carry rabies," the government stated.

"To ensure privacy for the family, no further information on the individual will be released."

This is the first case of human rabies in B.C. in 16 years.

In Canada, there have been only 24 known cases since the 1920s.

"If anyone in B.C. comes in contact with a bat (even if there is no obvious bite or scratch), wash the area with soap and water.

"Then consult a health-care provider or local public health department immediately. They will assess the risk of rabies and may provide a vaccine to prevent infection.

"Bats are the only known carriers of the rabies virus in the province. About 13% of bats tested in B.C. are positive for rabies."

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