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Ebola scare prompts lockdown in New Zealand parliament building

UNDATED: In this handout from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of a Ebola virus virion is seen. As the Ebola virus continues to spread across parts of Africa, a second doctor infected with the disease has arrived in the U.S. for treatment. Handout/Getty Images

Two packages purporting to contain Ebola virus sparked fears about a potential bioterror attack in New Zealand on Tuesday.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the mailroom of the country's parliament building was locked down after staffers discovered a package containing a small vial of liquid and a note claiming that it was Ebola.

Hours earlier, the Herald had discovered a similar package in its own Auckland office, including a plastic bottle of liquid and some documents, one of which mentioned Ebola, according to Australia's ABC. Sky News reported that a note claimed it was from a "jihadist group."

Both packages were being sent to Melbourne, Australia, for testing, though officials suspect the incidents are a hoax. Officers were working to determine whether they are linked.

There have been no Ebola cases in New Zealand.

Bioterror attacks are the subject of For the Record's Wednesday episode, "Biological Battlefield" (Nov. 12, 8 p.m. ET on TheBlaze TV), investigating the threat of anthrax, smallpox or Ebola — whether as part of a naturally occurring pandemic or an intentional terrorist attack.

"If something like smallpox were used in an attack, I think that it would represent probably the biggest threat to our national security that, that I can think of in, in recent times," said David Dausey, director of the Mercyhurst Institute of Public Health at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania.

David Dausey teaches a class at the School of Health Professions and Public Health at Mercyhurst University. David Dausey teaches a class at the School of Health Professions and Public Health at Mercyhurst University. (Tom Orr/TheBlaze)

"The question is, how quickly could we get the population vaccinated, how quickly can we scale up, how quickly could we respond as a nation? It would certainly be a humongous test of our health care and public health systems. And it’s not one that I’m confident we would do well on, unless we start to prepare and plan and deal with this type of a threat."

Sergui Popov, a former scientist in the Soviet Union's biological weapons program, told For the Record the threat of a biological attack is very real.

"A certain level of knowledge is required, but biological weapons are relatively cheap and easy to produce," Popov said. "From a bioterrorist's standpoint, even a crude agent could be sufficient enough to inflict a lot of harm or social instability and to reach their goals."

Learn more about the threat posed by bioterrorism and pandemics in "Biological Battlefield," Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TheBlaze TV.

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