Associated Press: The schools and museums are closed. Sold-out games between Mexico's most popular soccer teams are being played in empty stadiums. Health workers are ordering sickly passengers off subways and buses. And while bars and nightclubs filled up as usual, even some teenagers were dancing with surgical masks on.
Across this overcrowded capital of 20 million people, Mexicans are reacting with fatalism and confusion, anger and mounting fear at the idea that their city may be ground zero for a global epidemic of a new kind of flu -- a strange mix of human, pig and bird viruses that has epidemiologists deeply concerned.
Tests show 20 people in Mexico have died of the new swine flu strain, and that 48 other deaths were probably due to the same strain. The caseload of those sickened has grown to 1,004 nationwide, Mexico's Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said.
The same virus also sickened at least eight people in Texas and California, though there have been no deaths north of the border, puzzling experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic from viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals. This outbreak is particularly worrisome because deaths have happened in at least four different regions of Mexico, and because the victims have not been vulnerable infants and elderly.
The most notorious flu pandemic, thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults. Authorities in the capital responded Friday with a sweeping shutdown of public places and events, urging people to stay home if they feel sick and to avoid shaking hands or kissing people on the cheeks.
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