Washington: A man armed with a machete and wasp spray attacked security agents at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in the US before being shot at and overpowered, CNN reported on Saturday.

Richard White, 62, entered a security checkpoint at the airport on Friday night and began attacking transportation security administration (TSA) agents and bystanders with wasp spray, a statement from the sheriff's office said.

He soon pulled out a machete from his waistband and began wielding it at the security agents and others in the area.

One of the agents blocked the machete with a piece of luggage as White chased him through a security checkpoint metal detector.

At that point, a security agent from the Jefferson parish sheriff's office opened fire, shooting White in the chest, face and thigh.

The airport later confirmed the "security incident" on Facebook and Twitter, saying that "the site has been secured", according to a Xinhua report.

Some passengers who witnessed the scuffle described the scene as "chaotic".

"People had heard gunshots. Everyone was hiding behind chairs and in doorways," witness Farah Stockman tweeted. "Made our way to exit. Body was lying in a pool of blood."

The attacker was taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said.

One TSA agent reportedly suffered a bullet injury and was treated for non-life threatening injures. Several bystanders sustained minor injuries.

"We don't know what the motivation (of the attacker) is," Normand said. "It is still early. We're still running that out in order to try and determine anything about this particular individual."

It was not immediately clear why White was at the airport, although he is known to be a taxi driver.

White has little criminal history, according to Normand. There was nothing to indicate that the incident posed any sort of a national security threat, the Jefferson parish sheriff added.