||Objectives: A survey of domestic small mammals and their associated fleas was conducted in Cotonou during the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential role of small mammals in the transmission of anthropozoonosis.
Methodology and Results: A total of 1,402 domestic small mammals were captured in 54 stations using methods following Houémenou (2006). The most abundant small mammals were, Rattus rattus (black rat) (63.7%), Mastomys sp. (multimammate rat) (11.84%), Rattus norvegicus (brown rat) (11.48%) and Crocidura olivieri (7.85%). Among these rodents, 364 individuals were found with ectoparasites, and 886 fleas were collected (flea index 0.63), the most common flea being Xenopsylla cheopis (rat flea) (97.2%). This species was found in all areas of the city and infested all small mammal species. The Pulicidae prevalence (26%) showed important variations, with relatively low and significantly higher prevalence during the rainy and dry seasons, respectively.
Conclusions and application of findings: Small mammal community in Cotonou was dominated by Rattus rattus and fleas by Xenopsylla cheopis. Due to the presence of a seaport of paramount importance, Cotonou town was not away from importation by sea transport of zoonotic rats (shelter ships calling at the port of Cotonou, from all continents). To date, in Cotonou there is lacking information on pathogenic agents hosted by the small mammals and their ectoparasites. Therefore, awareness of the authorities on the zoonotic risk of small mammals for the human population is necessary. The authorities of the Port Autonome de Cotonou must increase the screening of ships, which arrive at Cotonou to avoid zoonotic rodent importation. The Ministry of Human Health in Benin must sensitize the populations at high risk of the rodent transmitted diseases. Further studies are needed to detect the different animal reservoirs of these pathogenic agents.