Live Bat Found at Honolulu Airport

NR12-06 – April 4, 2012

Tests Negative for Rabies

HONOLULU – A live bat was found near the interisland terminal at Honolulu International Airport on Monday afternoon (4/2).  Airport security personnel saw a man playing with the bat and tossing it in the air outside of the lobby near Baggage Claim B. The bat was recovered by security personnel and turned over to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which called inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA).  The bat died overnight and a necropsy was conducted yesterday by state veterinarians. Late last night, the Department of Health’s laboratory completed rabies tests which were negative for the virus.

Identification of the species of the bat is ongoing, but local authorities believe the bat is not a Hawaiian hoary bat. The bat is brown in color with a wingspan of about nine inches.  It is not known where the bat came from or how it got to the airport. (Update:  the bat has been identified as a little brown bat which is native to North America and widely distributed throughout the U.S. Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bishop Museum assisted in the identification.)

“Keeping Hawaii rabies free is one of the highest priorities of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture,” said Russell S. Kokubun, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Incidents like this remind us that it is not just a concern for animal health, but also human health.”

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Hawaii is the only state and one of the few places in the world that is rabies free. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were more than 6,150 cases of rabies in animals and two human cases the U.S. and Puerto Rico in 2010.  The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Though human rabies deaths are rare in the U.S., CDC estimates the public health costs associated with disease detection, prevention and control exceed $300 million each year.  More information on rabies may be found at the CDC website at:


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