Leucism and vitiligo compared in an infographic

Years ago, I wrote some articles about some cats with vitiligo. They look extraordinary as I think you’ll agree. The condition almost makes the cats appear to be a very exotic selectively bred cat breed but no. It is an autoimmune skin condition affecting humans, cats and other animals including dogs. The infographic below explores both leucism, which has a similar effect on the appearance, and vitiligo.

Leucism versus vitiligo in an infographic
Leucism versus vitiligo in an infographic
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Table summarising the differences

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences between leucism and vitiligo:

CauseGenetic conditionAutoimmune disease
Who it affectsAnimalsHumans and animals
Pigment lossPartial or completeComplete
Affected areasSkin, hair, feathers, scalesSkin, hair, eyes, mucous membranes
Eye colorNormalMay be affected
Source: Google Gemini. Thanks.

Can magpies be leucistic?

Yes, magpies can indeed be leucistic. There have been several reported sightings of leucistic magpies, which are characterized by their white plumage due to a lack of pigmentation.

For instance, a rare white magpie was spotted in Pembrokeshire, and it was noted that while leucistic birds like this magpie are very unusual, they do occur occasionally. This magpie is in the news as is the person who photographed it, Terry Wright, said that he felt a connection with the bird after chasing it around Pembrokeshire, Wales with great commitment.

Jon Carter of the British Trust for Ornithology said that the loss of black pigment may affect its ability to fly as black pigment plays a role in holding the feathers together.

Similarly, there have been discussions and photographs shared by birdwatching communities that confirm the presence of leucistic magpies in different regions. These unique birds stand out due to their distinctive appearance, but they are recognized and accepted by other magpies as part of their group.

How rare is leucism?

Leucism is relatively rare in the animal kingdom. According to various sources, the occurrence of leucism (and albinism) in birds is estimated at about 1 in 30,000. This rarity can vary from one species to another, and while it’s more common than albinism, it’s still considered an unusual genetic condition. The exact frequency of leucism in other animals is not well documented, but it is generally less common than normal pigmentation patterns.

Sources: Wikipedia, Avian Report and others.

How rare is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is considered a common condition, affecting about 1% of the human population worldwide. It’s not classified as rare; a rare disease is typically defined as one that affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people. Vitiligo can occur in individuals of any age, race, or gender, and its prevalence makes it one of the more common pigmentary disorders.

Sources: Everyday Health, NHS and others.

RELATED:2 examples of feline vitiligo (leukoderma)

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