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Fascinating bit of shaving brush history...

I did a search and found that this has been discussed here in the past but not recently and I thought it might be interesting to other n00bs like me. It is the rather fascinating tale of an anthrax mini-epidemic cause by un-treated horse hair shaving brushes during WW1.

I was looking at a photo of some old literature for the Rolls Razor, which had an advertisement for one of their brushes and in the copy it states:

"Fully sterilized and guaranteed free of anthrax."

Which of course prompted me to do a Google search, which led me to a rather interesting report from the CDC (published in 2017?) that talks about the resurgence in TWS and the hypothetical (minimal) risk of contracting anthrax from a vintage horse shaving brushes that were distributed and used during the War, by both soldiers and civilians in the US and Great Britain.

Anthrax Cases Associated with Animal-Hair Shaving Brushes

Again, I know it has been discussed before but thought it was worth posting it again for new members who might have otherwise missed an interesting tid-bit of wet shaving history.
 
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Anthrax was an issue during WWI because they were trying to produce war time products as fast as possible, so they did not properly clean/sterilize them. There are reports that the Germany intentionally infected animals and animal feed with Anthrax that were intended for sale to Allied countries. Anthrax is a spore forming bacteria that is commonly found in soil, but it normally is not concentrated enough to cause disease.

During WWI, there were no antibiotics effective against anthrax. Today, antibiotics like ciprofloxacin (Cipro) an doxyclycline. Since Anthrax can be weaponized and used for biological warfare, governments stockpile Cipro as a precaution.

While Anthrax during WWI did cause a number of skin infections, I read that only 5 deaths were reported. In contrast 20 million people died due to the war itself. The Spanish flu raging during that same timeframe may have killed as many as 100 million. Since the ability to test for viruses was not as sophisticated then as it is now with COVID, the number of deaths caused by Influenza is not readily determined.
 
Anthrax was an issue during WWI because they were trying to produce war time products as fast as possible, so they did not properly clean/sterilize them. There are reports that the Germany intentionally infected animals and animal feed with Anthrax that were intended for sale to Allied countries. Anthrax is a spore forming bacteria that is commonly found in soil, but it normally is not concentrated enough to cause disease.

During WWI, there were no antibiotics effective against anthrax. Today, antibiotics like ciprofloxacin (Cipro) an doxyclycline. Since Anthrax can be weaponized and used for biological warfare, governments stockpile Cipro as a precaution.

While Anthrax during WWI did cause a number of skin infections, I read that only 5 deaths were reported. In contrast 20 million people died due to the war itself. The Spanish flu raging during that same timeframe may have killed as many as 100 million. Since the ability to test for viruses was not as sophisticated then as it is now with COVID, the number of deaths caused by Influenza is not readily determined.
I had also read that manufacturers were harvesting hair from downer animals which could have led to subsequent infections. While anthrax does pop up every so often in livestock (especially after heavy rains dislodge spores from the soil from previous outbreaks), the odds of getting anthrax from hair harvested from a live, healthy horse are almost nonexistent.
 
I had also read that manufacturers were harvesting hair from downer animals which could have led to subsequent infections. While anthrax does pop up every so often in livestock (especially after heavy rains dislodge spores from the soil from previous outbreaks), the odds of getting anthrax from hair harvested from a live, healthy horse are almost nonexistent.

Absolutely.

I understand that Vie Long, the predominant producer of horsehair brushes raises a heard of horses specifically for harvesting the hair. Thus, they will be well cared for, examined by veterinarians, etc. Boar and badger brushes are produced from hair recovered after the animals are killed. Horsehair is harvested from live horses during the normal grooming process. Thus, horses are not harmed.
 
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