This photo was provided by the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. The well-being of walrus is threatened not by a pathogen but by the very real loss of sea ice that is forcing them to swim greater distances to find ice that is appropriate for hauling out and resting. The overall health of the walruses that I have examined both grossly and histologically has been excellent.
This past summer I was able to collect tissues from 3 subsistence-harvested walruses. It is more often the case that the hunter will butcher the walrus on a suitable piece of ice, leaving the visceral organs behind and returning with the skin, blubber and meat. It is so difficult to haul the entire carcass back to town to butcher. One of the hunters was kind enough to bring the entire carcass back for me to examine. I was so grateful to the hunter for doing so, as I have never been able to examine all of the visceral organs before! He was able to do so because it was a young healthy male.