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Older Americans were disproportionately affected by several different types of infection for which antibiotics were largely ineffective, resulting in nearly 12,000 deaths and costing the U.S. health care system almost $1.9 billion in 2017, a new study found.

Of those deaths, 40% were estimated to have occurred among those 65 years and older, while this same group of patients accounted for 41% of the associated health care costs. Yet Americans who are 65 years or older account for just 15% of the U.S. population, according to a corresponding analysis.

The study is the first to directly illustrate that so-called superbug infections — which do not respond to standard antibiotics – are especially severe and expensive to treat among seniors, a vulnerable population that also heavily relies on the taxpayer-funded Medicare program for much of their health care.

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