A Vancouver Island man who died after contracting rabies from a bat has been identified as 21-year-old Nick Major.

Family members tell CTV News that Major was returning from a trip to Tofino in mid-May when he pulled over on the side of the road.

When a bat flew near him, Major swatted the creature away like a bug, making contact with it.

Provincial health officers confirmed the man died six weeks after he became infected with rabies.

"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 said Monday evening.

Family, friends and health workers who cared for Major were still being assessed and have been treated for post-exposure rabies as needed.

Major was a Tae Kwan Do instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville, according to a post on the gym's Facebook page.

"Our heart goes out to Nick and his family," Cascadia said, prompting a stream of comments mourning the young man.

"Nicholas, you made such a tremendous impact on the people of this community, on the kids who saw you as a hero and friend, on the parents who quickly knew they could trust you absolutely with helping to guide and shape the lives of their kids, to the family of Cascadia, and to everyone you met," one commenter wrote.

It's the first case of a human dying after being infected by rabies in B.C. since 2003.

Twenty-six people in Canada, including Major, have died from rabies since reporting began in 1924, according to the federal government.

Anyone who comes into contact with a bat is urged to wash the area with soap and water, then see a doctor.

There are vaccinations for rabies, though they are not available to the general public and are reserved for wildlife workers and others most likely to come into contact with the virus.