Two young children and a teenager from Rockhampton are in hospital after being diagnosed with meningococcal disease.

Queensland Health said the children, who are closely related, were diagnosed with the disease in the last week.

The first child is in a stable condition at Royal Children’s Hospital and the other two are in a stable condition in Rockhampton Hospital.

The potentially deadly disease does not spread easily but can be transferred through prolonged close contact with a carrier.

“About 10 per cent of people carry meningococcal bacteria in their throats and noses without having any symptoms,” Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Young said.

The disease causes sufferers to feel extreme illness with symptoms including headaches, fever, vomiting, sore joints, drowsiness and a red/purple rash.

Queensland Health said babies may have other symptoms including refusing to feed, irritability, dislike of being handled and lethargy.

Anyone with the symptoms, especially the rapidly-spreading rash, is urged to seek medical treatment quickly.

Queensland Health said 18 cases of meningococcal were diagnosed in the state between January 1 and June 22 this year. There were a total of 33 cases in 2013.