A 37-year Indonesian man has died of bird flu in central Indonesia, marking the country's ninth fatality this year, the health ministry said Sunday on its website.

The man had died July 30 in Yogyakarta province after being hospitalized for five days, the ministry said Monday in a statement.

Laboratory tests showed that the man was positive on having the H5N1 virus, making the total death toll to 159 out of 191 total cases since the avian flu began spreading in the country in 2005.

The ministry said that the man who had lived near a chicken slaughterhouse was infected with the H5N1 virus after apparently coming into contact with sick birds.

The man started feeling the symptoms of the disease on July 24. He had had a high fever before going to hospital the next day where he was treated and shifted to another hospital on July 29 because his symptoms were getting worse.

The H5N1 virus, which began spreading across Asia in 2003, remains deep-rooted in Indonesia and could possibly mutate in to a new form that spreads easily among people, potentially triggering a pandemic. However, experts say that most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds.

The World Health Organization reports that 359 people have died from bird flu worldwide. Indonesia is still the most affected country, accounting for 159 deaths.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi had said that Indonesia is striving to produce bird flu vaccine in case a pandemic takes place.

Mboi said that Indonesia needs at least 50,000 units vaccine in case of a pandemic and to help other counties.