The B.C. government has confirmed that a man has died in a rare case of rabies.

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry confirmed the death in a statement, saying the patient was exposed to the deadly virus on Vancouver Island after coming into contact with a bat back in May and developed symptoms 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 statement read.

Family members of the victim, community contact and health-care workers who cared for the patient are being assessed and given post-exposure measures as needed.

This is the first reported case of human rabies in B.C. since 2003.

There have only been 24 known cases of the virus in Canada since the 1920s.

The most recent cases were in Ontario (2012) and Alberta (2007).

Anyone who comes in contact with a bat is advised to wash the area with soap and water and immediately contact a health-care provider, even if there is no obvious scratch or bite.

Bats are the only known carriers of the virus in B.C., the government said, with about 13 per cent of bats testing positive.

"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," the province said. If you believe your pet has had contact with a bat, consult your veterinarian."