By JANET McCONNAUGHEY
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The early start to flu season that's sweeping the country hasn't spared Louisiana and Mississippi.
While the outlook for the rest of the season isn't clear, experts are encouraging people to take precautions such as getting a flu shot and making it a practice to wash hands often to prevent the spread of germs.
Both states are among 29 reporting high levels of flu-like illness. Although 18 children nationwide have died from the flu since early October, none was in Mississippi or Louisiana.
State epidemiologists in Louisiana and Mississippi say emergency rooms have not reported having to turn away patients because of high numbers of flu cases, as happened at Chicago-area hospitals.