A DEADLY infection that turns deer into zombie beasts is spreading across North America, a new report warns.

And it's feared the so-called "zombie deer disease" could be transmitted to humans.

Also known as chronic wasting disease (CWD), it attacks the brain, spinal cord and other tissues in deer, elk and moose.

Animals affected become aggressive and rapidly lose weight and coordination before the illness kills them.

Concern is now growing amid reports the horror disease has spread to 24 US states and two Canadian provinces.

The US Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) highlighted the issue in its 2019 report after it discovered the virus had spread to two more states since last year.

But while there are fears zombie deer disease could become a new mad-cow epidemic, there is no evidence as yet to suggest humans could be harmed.

However, a recent study found for the first time that macaques could get the virus after eating infected meat, sparking fears that a variant hitting humans could soon emerge.

A separate study found that laboratory mice with some human genes could become infected, according to the CDC.

The CDC report warns that the disease is spreading.

It says: "In several locations where the disease is established, infection rates may exceed ten percent (one in ten), and localised infection rates of more than 25 percent (1 in 4) have been reported.

"The infection rates among some captive deer can be much higher, with a rate of 70 per cent (nearly four in five) reported from at least one captive herd."

The disease was first spotted in the wild 40 years ago, but has been seen in captive deer since the '60s.

"Since 2000, the area known to be affected by CWD in free-ranging animals has increased to at least 24 states, including states in the Midwest, Southwest, and limited areas on the East Coast," the CDC says.

"It is possible that CWD may also occur in other states without strong animal surveillance systems, but that cases haven’t been detected yet.

"Once CWD is established in an area, the risk can remain for a long time in the environment. The affected areas are likely to continue to expand."

The infection can be found in both free-ranging and farmed animals - but it can be years before an animal shows symptoms.