We examined the consequences of being exposed to an outbreak of the Norwalk virus at a small university. Data from 422 undergraduates supported a model in which the experience of symptoms and perceptions of the university's response to the outbreak predicted fear of future contamination. In turn, fear predicted strain and enhanced hygiene practices. Results are consistent with a model of disease outbreak as a traumatic stressor, and implications for organizations dealing with disease outbreaks are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.