Nick Major was spending time outside on Vancouver Island in mid-May when a bat "essentially ran into his hand," according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. It's atypical to encounter a bat in the daylight, but apparently Major saw no cause for concern right away. Six weeks later, however, the 21-year-old martial arts instructor developed symptoms of rabies, the CBC reports. He died in a hospital Saturday after going into a coma over the weekend, Global News reports. "As is often the case, when you come in contact with a bat, you may not actually see a scratch or bite," Henry says. "Clearly, in this case, there was at least a small puncture wound that led to the infection."
Major's death is just the second rabies-related fatality in British Columbia since it began tracking the disease 95 years ago. Henry notes that while rabies can be spread through tiny bites or scratches, "any contact with a bat at all is risky," as it can also be contracted via saliva if there is contact between the bat and mucous membranes in a person's mouth, nose, or eyelids. And as rabies can incubate for months or even years before symptoms develop, anyone who has contact with a bat is advised to visit a doctor. "It is with profound sadness today that Nick went peacefully in his sleep this morning," reads a post on the GoFundMe campaign set up for Major's family. "Nick was an inspiration to everyone, and his memory will continue to inspire others." (A woman who played with a stray dog on vacation died of rabies two months later.)