Yes, it is absolutely possible. Although we do not know the specific cause of the problem that you experienced, it is very common for IT enthusiasts (and even professionals) to underestimate the risk of ESD damage to components. ESD damage probably will not occur every time you handle a component without proper grounding, but it certainly will occur a percentage of the time. The risk is especially high in dry environments, but ESD can happen anywhere and at any time.
One thing is certain: if you follow proper procedures every time you handle electronic components of any kind, when something stops working, you will not need to second-guess whether it might have been your fault for frying thousands of microscopic transistors with the touch of your finger.
Intel provides detailed guidance about the risks and how they can be avoided:
Electrostatic generation arising from friction between two materials is called triboelectric charging. It occurs when two materials are separated or rubbed together.
- Opening a common plastic bag.
- Removing adhesive tape from a roll or container.
- Walking across a floor.
- Transporting computer boards or components around in their trays on carts.
- Sliding circuit boards on a workbench.
When handling parts or their containers, ungrounded personnel can transfer high static charges. Unless these static charges are slowly dissipated, ESD events can inflict damage to the devices.
Electrical fields can penetrate electrical devices. An ungrounded person handling a component or computer board in a non-static shielding container can inadvertently transfer an electrical charge through the container into the sensitive electronic device.
The Wikipedia article on electrostatic sensitive devices provides additional details and references that may be of interest.