A 21-year-old man is dead after contracting a rare case of rabies on Vancouver Island, the province confirms.

The man was in contact with a bat in mid-May and developed symptoms compatible with rabies six weeks later, according to the B.C. health ministry.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the B.C. man died after contracting the infection.

"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.

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

Family members, friends and health workers who cared for the man are still being assessed and given post-exposure rabies treatments as required.

The province says the most recent case of human rabies in B.C. was in 2003.

There have only been 24 known cases of human rabies since the 1920s, the ministry said. The most recent cases in Canada were in Ontario in 2012 and Alberta in 2007.

Anyone in B.C. who comes in contact with a bat is advised to wash the area with soap and water and to consult a healthcare provider or local public health department immediately.

Bats are the only known carriers of the rabies virus in B.C., with 13 per cent of them testing positive for the disease, the province said.

The ministry advises pet owners to ensure their pet's rabies vaccinations are up to date and to consult a veterinarian immediately if a pet comes in contact with a bat.