The B.C. Ministry of Health has confirmed the first case of rabies in B.C. since 2003. A man died from the infection after coming into contact with a bat on Vancouver Island in mid-May. (File Photo)

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

A Parksville man has died from a viral rabies infection after coming into contact with a bat on Vancouver Island in May.

Twenty-one-year-old Nick Major, who worked as a taekwondo instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville, has been identified as the deceased on social media.

A post from Major’s mom, Carmen, was shared on the Cascadia Martial Arts Facebook page on July 13.

“It’s with broken hearts we said goodbye to our precious angel Nick Major who left us peacefully this morning at 6:28 a.m.,” reads the post. “We would like to thank everyone for all your prayers & love for Nicholas & our family during this hard time. Please continue to love & support each other as we face the shock & sorrow from this huge loss. He was an amazing & wonderful young man loved by so many. He will continue to be with us & watch over in spirit. He will forever be in our hearts.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the rare case of rabies in a press release from the B.C. Ministry of Health.

Major came into contact with the bat in mid-May and developed symptoms “compatible with rabies six weeks later.”

His infection is the first case of human rabies in the province since 2003 and one of only 24 known cases in Canada since the 1920s – the most recent in Ontario in 2012 and Alberta in 2007.

“While the exposure in this case was on Vancouver Island, bats in all areas of B.C. are known to carry rabies,” the Ministry stated. “Family members, close community contacts and health-care workers who cared for this person are being assessed and given post-exposure rabies preventive measures, if needed.”

READ ALSO: Public’s help needed in tracking bat activity

READ ALSO: Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Cascadia Martial Arts started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Major.

“It is with profound sadness today that Nick went peacefully in his sleep this morning. Nick was an inspiration to everyone, and his memory will continue to inspire others as we remember him,” reads the latest update on the GoFundMe page. “This was such a shocking and unbelievably devastating loss for Nick’s family. We hope that the funds we have raised can help arrange funerals costs and provide time for his family to grieve. Nick will forever be remembered by all of us.”

The campaign has raised close to $21,000 so far.

The Ministry asks that anyone who comes in contact with a bat immediately wash the area with soap and water, even if there is no obvious bite or scratch, and consult a health-care provider or local public health public health department immediately where a vaccine to prevent infection may be provided.

About 13 per cent of B.C. bats tested in B.C. came back positive for rabies, the Ministry said.

“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. If you believe your pet has had contact with a bat, consult your veterinarian.”

— With a file from Nina Grossman

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

‘I love my animals very dearly,’ says man at centre of Saanich park allegations

Man accused of assault after being approached for allegedly mistreating his dog

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Author chronicles churches built by pioneers in the Salish Sea

B.C. author Liz Bryan preserving a little bit of pioneer history in her latest book

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

UPDATED: Saanich firefighters investigate early morning fire at elementary school

Fire crews remain on scene at Strawberry Vale Elementary

Fire damages home on Fifth Avenue in Port Alberni

Fire crews spend late morning hours knocking down blaze

Swim advisory issued at Cadboro Bay beach due to high bacteria levels

Island Health advises against water activities, swimming

MISSING: Victoria police search for high-risk missing woman last seen June 24

Amanda Williams is a 34-year-old Indigenous woman with short black hair and brown eyes

Plans for pot shop in Sidney spark back to life

Changing provincial regulations could clear the way for Sidney’s first ever pot shop

Most Read