The first case in 15 years in a Canadian province has left a 21-year-old BC man dead after a rabies infection from a bat. According to health officials, cases like this are highly uncommon and only a handful of people have actually contracted the disease.
According to the provincial government, the man contracted rabies from a bat while on Vancouver Island, BC. Health officials have said that the man allegedly came into contact with the bat in May but he didn't show symptoms until six weeks later.
He passed away at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver this past weekend on Saturday, July 13, 2019. His identity has not been released to the public.
Family members of the unidentified man have been contacted. Healthcare workers are giving them post-exposure rabies preventive measures if necessary.
A press release has noted that bats in BC are known to carry rabies. About 13% of bats that were tested in the province were rabies positive.
The BC government has stated that if anyone comes in contact with a bat, they should wash the area with soap and water. Be sure to consult a healthcare provider immediately following the incident.
According to Global News, the victim's family has stated that the man was not bitten or scratched by the bat.
Symptoms of rabies include headache, fever, difficulty in swallowing, excessive drooling, muscle spasms or weakness, and “strange behaviour.”
The BC government website states that prevention treatment only works if it has started before symptoms appear. This involves getting both a rabies immune globulin and the rabies vaccine.
Humans contracting and dying from rabies is super rare. Since the 1920s, there have only been 24 incidents of rabies in Canada. Most recently, there were cases in Ontario and Alberta in 2012 and 2007 respectively. This is BC’s first case of rabies in 15 years.