A question struck me one day when I was writing a blog post and wanted to use the relative pronoun who on non-human subject such as a virus. I had seen many examples before where this pronoun, which is used chiefly to refer to humans, is being used on non-human subjects and they appear idiomatic:
He plays Andrew Martin, a robot who, over 200 years, discovers what it means to be human. (From a 1999 edition of USAToday. I discovered it on COCA.)
They doubtless were Thark warriors who had been sent out to capture us. (From A Princess of Mars.)
If my analysis is correct, it appears that the use of who on non-human subjects is acceptable when there are signs of personification (example 1), or the non-human subject actually possesses human-like properties and resembles a human in many ways (example 2, 3).
In example 4 I find it a little bit tricky to justify the use of who. The reason why the author chose the pronoun who rather than which or that probably has to do with how the expression reads and sounds, which he stated in the endnote as the reason why he/she didn't use the phrase animals other than humans. So here is my question:
It was due to the dengue virus who infected my stromal cells and impaired my bone marrow.
Can I justify the use of who in this sentence I wrote by giving a similar argument such as I like the way it reads and sounds as the presence of who makes the virus seem like a person and that's my intention? Or in other words, will the sentence be considered ungrammatical since I use the pronoun who instead of that or which, even though my intention is to make in-human subject seem like a person?