In 2003 the world was hit by the SARS (severe acute respiratory distress syndrome) epidemic with more than 8,000 people in 29 countries being infected over the course of seven months. In Hong Kong alone 1,755 individuals were infected and 299 died. A study of people in Hong Kong both before and after the epidemic found that people who survived the disease had higher levels of stress at the time of the outbreak and that this elevated level of stress persisted a year later. By 2004 SARS survivors also showed worrying levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic symptoms. Those SARS survivors who were health workers at the time of the original outbreak had significantly higher stress levels then other SARS survivors in 2004 and had higher scores for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic symptoms.
Lee, Antoinette M. ... [et al] - Stress and psychological distress among SARS survivors 1 year after the outbreak Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2007; 52: 233-240